Umatilla Elementary vending up some literature

Vending machines aren’t exactly a staple in the halls of most elementary schools, but the one premiering in the courtyard at Umatilla Elementary may change that.

It’s a book vending machine. Every item inside: literature fit for students from kindergarten to 5th grade.

"No I never would have imagined we were going to be unveiling a vending machine,” said Principal Dianne Dwyer.

Dwyer quickly got on board though when school Media Specialist Susan Caldwell spotted the idea on Facebook; something a school in New York had tried out.

"I contacted our principal and said 'I want one of these!'" said Caldwell.

A family friend of Caldwell’s helped the school secure a refurbished vending machine and administrators used the school’s Scholastic Dollars to fill it up with various books.

Starting Monday morning, students will be able to buy the books for 50 cents apiece or utilize their reward points, called Bulldog Bucks, to trade-in for a trip to the machine.

They receive Bulldog Bucks for doing good things and working cooperatively with others, doing good work,” said Caldwell.

Then the books are theirs to keep and enjoy. 

Dweyer and Caldwell chose Monday morning for the reveal to mark the start of Umatilla’s Literacy Week. Though the duo admits some students caught glimpse of the machine early and were eagerly buying up books before administrators could cover that machine up for the big premier.

However, they say that’s a good thing to see when the whole idea of the machine is inspiring a love of books and reading.

"We love the excitement,” said Dweyer. “Anything that builds the foundation of reading, because reading is the foundation of all learning."

The school hopes to keep growing the program and possibly even find community sponsors to help them add new and exciting books to the selections.