11/08/2011 11:28 AM - JACKSONVILLE – The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks and Liberty Pines Academy celebrated the launch of the Chum’s Champions Reading Program at the school on Tuesday.

Located in St. John’s County, Liberty Pines will be the first of many schools involved in the Chum’s Champions program. The program provides individual goals to students from kindergarten through the eighth grade, rewarding students who meet those goals throughout the year. The potential incentives range from Sharks-themed school supplies to a ticket to the Sharks’ Education Appreciation Night game against the Spokane Shock on April 28.

“Our reading rewards program has caught on like wildfire since the Sharks joined our initiative in stressing the importance of reading,” LPA Principal Randy Kelley said. “We have had to increase our subscription to Accelerated Reader because we have so many students participating this year. We have a real win-win scenario happening and I think it’s just amazing.”

The exact nature of the reading program depends on each student’s grade level. At Liberty Pines, kindergarten students have “Chum Buddy” goals that involve reading with their parents, while those in grades one through eight set quarterly goals to strive for.

The program’s incentives increase as the year goes on. Students in the Accelerated Reading program who meet their first quarter goal receive a Sharks pencil, those who meet their first two goals earn a Sharks school supply kit, and those who meet each of their first three goals will be rewarded with a ticket to the April 28 Sharks game. Finally, everyone who meets all four quarterly goals will attend the school’s Chum’s Champions reading reward party at the end of the school year.

“Thanks to the Sharks’ support of our reading programs this year we have had the most participation ever,” said LPA Reading Rewards Coordinator Melanie Tahan, who added that over 900 LPA students met their first quarter goal. “Our students are very excited when Chum comes to visit and are looking forward to being able to attend a Sharks game by meeting their AR goals.

Chum and the Sharks will work closely with Liberty Pines throughout the year to continue building the program’s momentum. Chum will participate with students in Children’s Literacy Week and plans to attend the school’s reading rewards party to give out autographed photos and other special prizes. In doing so, Chum will encourage students to continue reading during the summer.

The Chum’s Champions program can be tailored to meet each school’s specific goals and objectives. For more information about and to get involved with the program, please contact Sharks Director of Community Relations Jen Foskey at [email protected]

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL.) The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are now available, two tickets as low as $135. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at