And then I had a "eureka" moment.
I'm toggling between two email addresses: my own, and one I created for my 2nd hour students, so they could use the gmail+ method to create logins for our class ning. And then I realized: a class google login means they have access to Google Docs. If I save versions of the same template with names corresponding to book title and class period, that eliminates the need for USB drives. Additionally, I have access to their project and can monitor progress without having to worry about students shutting down the computer before saving on my flash drive, or losing their own flash drive or not being present in class for either of the work days or the presentation day. Downloading a copy onto my desktop isn't an issue, as a just-in-case precaution. And saving on my flash drive is a last resort.
I'm feeling better and better about this project all the time.