Scholarly sleuthing Citrus Springs students make ‘Great Escape’

by Julie Gorham / Citrus Chronicle

Citrus Springs Elementary unlocked the mystery of literacy during its schoolwide “Great Escape Literary Night” on Thursday, May 4.

About 250 students and parents sleuthed how to flee from the cafeteria with props at 26 stations focusing on different letters of the alphabet. This idea is in the vein of the new and popular “Escape Rooms” popping up all over the country, including Crystal River.

“The only difference is that we are not locking them in the cafeteria, but trying to get some excitement about reading,” said third-grade teacher and organizer Anne Fleck.

Fleck said after years of literacy night, the spark wasn’t as bright for teachers or students. So, she added a new spin to create a mysterious event with 26 stations decorated with images that start with a letter of the alphabet.

“When dealing with 5-year-olds to 10-year-olds, we had to make the clues easy, so we chose the alphabet,” Fleck said.

As students came into the school, each picked a letter from a bag, so they wouldn’t all start with the letter A.

Many students reached into the bag and pulled out a golden letter — signifying they won a gift certificate for the school’s book fair.

Once they got a letter, they had to solve the mystery using clues found at each station until all 26 stations were complete.

“The goal is to get an involvement across the student body and their families, but more to share the love of reading; it’s all about authors or books,” Fleck said. “ We want to get some excitement about reading and hopefully get a few children on the reading path for summer.”

While the kids couldn’t contain their excitement, teachers could barely contain their own.

“I have been at the school for 29 years and this is reminiscent of events we had 20 years ago,” Fleck said. “I’m really excited about this, over 30 teachers are here and everyone jumped on board and is terribly excited.”

When the night slowly came to an end, students began solving their mystery using clues.

The magic answer was “The greatest escape is always a book.”

“I like the pizza,” second-grader Grant Weed said. “The activities were exciting and fun. It made everyone happy.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or


Photo by Stephen E Lasko

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