Hernando Middle School Principal Dr. Jerry Floate had to pay up Tuesday night on a promise he made to students at the school to spend the night on the roof if they met their goal at this year’s Scholastic Book Fair.

Floate challenged the students to sell 1,000 books. 

The students not only met their goal, they more than doubled it, selling 2,300 books and in the process raising about $8,000 for their school to use buy more books for the library.

Several dozen students, parents, and cheerleaders showed up Tuesday night to wish Floate well as he prepared to climb up onto the roof just like he promised.

“I have a tent and a sleeping bag and an air mattress to sleep on,” Floate said. “A couple of the coaches are going to visit with me and we are going to talk about the basketball season and talk about the soccer season. We may even do a live show on my Twitter if it works out.”

Even though the temperatures hovered in the mid-40s, this was one bet that Foate didn’t mind paying. The goal of the book fair was to get kids to read and to buy more books for the library that students can check out.

“It was a big accomplishment,” Floate said. “We encourage reading here and every DeSoto County school puts a big emphasis on literacy. If you look at statistics, 60 percent of middle schoolers across the United States do not read at grade level. So it is highly important that we improve literacy at all levels. The best thing parents can do at home for their children is to get them reading at an early age.”

The school partners with Scholastic every year to host a book fair. Scholastic is the largest publisher of children’s books.

School Librarian Alison Lee said she was ecstatic that the students met their goal this year. 

“They were so excited,” Lee said. “Every class I was in today I told them tonight is the night that Dr. Floate picked to spend on the roof.”

Lee said the book fair had to be held virtually last year because of COVID-19 and they only sold 250 books, which was far short of their goal of 625 books.

This year though, Lee said the students were extremely motivated because they wanted to see Dr. Floate have to spend the night on the roof.

“He got out of it last year,” Lee said. “So I discussed it with some of the teachers and we set a goal to sell 1,000 books. We have about 1,100 students at the school. I told the kids if every student bought one book, we would meet the goal. We started building up to it two weeks prior and showing promotional materials, and we could tell the kids were getting excited.”

Lee said students had about 3,500 books to choose from.

“We had cases of books in the library that Scholastic delivered and they came in and shopped,” Lee said. “It was like a book store.”

The school sold about $16,000 worth of books, which they will be able to either take part in cash or part in credit to buy more books published by Scholastic for the school library.

“The way it works with Scholastic is you either take a 50 percent profit in Scholastic dollars and you spend it with Scholastic,” Lee said. “Or, you can take a split where you get some cash. Either way, it is going to mean about $8,000 worth of books for the library.”

Coach Christopher Camp, who interviewed Floate on a Facebook Live event, said he was proud of the students for reaching their goal, and proud of Floate for being a good sport by spending the night on the roof.

“How awesome is this,” Camp said. “I can not tell you how proud I am to be a Hernandoan. I can not tell you how proud I am that my daughter goes to this school.”

Eighth graders Libby Foster and Morgan Ferrell helped cheer Floate on.

“I wouldn’t expect anyone to offer to do that if we reached our goal,” Ferrell said.

Foster said she thought Floate was pretty brave to spend the night on the roof in the winter-like weather.

“I don’t think I’d go up there,” Foster said. “I’m going to be home in my warm bed.”



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