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Gulf Middle School earns top honors in national competition

By Staff | Feb 12, 2009

Gulf Middle School took first place nationally for a contest where students transformed the school into a French cafe within a classic Parisian neighborhood.
Every semester the Scholastic Middle School National Crew Contest challenges students to promote reading in schools.
Forty-eight members of the student crew also are part of Gulf Middle’s Accelerated Reading Student Advisory Committee or ARSAC, a group that brainstorms new ways to introduce reading to other students.
Gulf Middle was named the first place winner in the fall of 2007 and 2008. It is the only school in the United States to win twice.
“We are the only school to have ever won it twice,” said Kathy Adams, media specialist at Gulf Middle. “When we won it last fall, we were the only Florida school to have ever won.”
For placing first, the school was treated to a visit from American Idol finalist Lisa Tucker in 2008. This year it will be visited by Jeff Kinney, author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and receive a $2,000 shopping spree with Scholastic.
Crew members spent last semester redesigning the school to resemble a restaurant in Paris and named the event La Readatouille, a parody of the 2008 animation film “Ratatouille” — a story of a rat who loves to prepare food.
The rest of the students and faculty also participated in the transformation, said Adams.
“The whole school had a good time,” said Adams. “We had involvement at every level.”
French students helped educate other crew members and translate signs into French. Posters were put on every wall in the school, and members of the faculty volunteered their time to portray RATTS or Read All of The Time. One student even created a DVD related to the overall French theme.
Crew members played waiters, chefs and maitre d’s, designing a “banquet of fine reading” to impress a book critic who never finds any good books to read. According to Adams, middle school students commonly say they do not read because they can never find a book they enjoy.
The school also held Viva la France, where students wore red, white and blue, and worked in conjunction with the school’s Recipe for Success, where parents perused history fair presentations, the book fair and drank hot chocolate flavored with French vanilla.
Among the second place winners who received a $1,000 shopping spree with Scholastic was Cypress Lake Middle, which organized Reading Campaign 2008 based around books and the presidential election.
Books sales at Gulf Middle exceeded $6,000 and Cypress Lake sold $3,500 worth. For more information, visit: www.scholastic.com.