Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Plays Auctioneer to Boost Reading Program

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bush Plays Auctioneer to Boost Reading Program

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, Times-Union staff writer

********** CORRECTION April 4, 2002

Pippi Longstocking is a character in children's literature. Because of a reporter's error, her name was incorrect in a story on Page B-1 yesterday.


Gov. Jeb Bush visited a Jacksonville elementary school yesterday where fifth-graders bid on items donated by Hollywood stars, sports heroes, politicians and merchants.

Students earned a penny a page in play money for books they read during the school year. They used the money to bid on nearly 300 items. Most were autographed pictures, including photos of Bush and Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan. Also up for bid was a chance to be principal for a day and a debut on First Coast News with meteorologist Betsy Kling.

It was the 11th annual Celebrity Reading Auction at Greenland Pines Elementary School in Mandarin. Bush was invited to be a guest auctioneer. He auctioned off several items before visiting a few classrooms and posing for photographs with students and teachers.

"We are so honored that he accepted our invitation," said Principal Minnie Smith.

The event fell in line with Bush's statewide initiative to promote reading.

Bush and Brogan recently unveiled Just Read, Florida!, a plan designed to have all students reading at or above their grade level by 2012.

Bush chuckled when he saw the first item up for bid: Brogan's photo. And his eyes bulged when 11-year-old Eric Landron spent $31 for the prize.

Kling stood beside Bush and acted like Vanna White, holding up each item for bid. Bush eventually turned the show over to Kling.

He sat in on a fourth-grade math lesson, met some pre-schoolers in an exceptional student education class and chatted with first-graders.

"When I was your age, the teacher would catch me daydreaming," he told first-graders in Karen Mueller's class. "Reading is like organized daydreaming and you don't get in trouble for it. You can go anywhere in the world."

Even to Sweden, said Mueller, who mentioned that she had been reading to her students about Pippy Longstocking. Student Tamara Strunk impressed Bush when she pointed out Sweden on a wall map. …

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