Book vending machine unveiled in Woodland 50

  • Second-graders Mallory Coombes, left, and Ya Jing Plescia cut the ribbon on a new book vending machine in front of the library at Woodland Elementary West in Gages Lake Friday.

      Second-graders Mallory Coombes, left, and Ya Jing Plescia cut the ribbon on a new book vending machine in front of the library at Woodland Elementary West in Gages Lake Friday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The crowd erupts into cheers as second-grade student Ya Jing Plescia reaches in to pull out the first book from a new book vending machine Friday at Woodland Elementary West in Gages Lake. The machine will be used to reward students with books and to help encourage reading.

      The crowd erupts into cheers as second-grade student Ya Jing Plescia reaches in to pull out the first book from a new book vending machine Friday at Woodland Elementary West in Gages Lake. The machine will be used to reward students with books and to help encourage reading. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/23/2019 5:08 PM

The Woodland Elementary School District 50 community came together Friday afternoon to celebrate the unveiling of a new contraption at the Elementary West library that combines the educational value of reading with the fun of getting a snack: a book vending machine.

"Kids get a thrill from going to a vending machine," district spokeswoman Brooke Hooker said.

 

"This is a way to get that vending machine thrill in a really positive way."

The machine's debut was indeed thrilling for those there Friday. Elementary West second-grader Ya Jing Plescia walked up to the machine before a crowd of district parents, staff members and local civic leaders, inserted a token, made her selection and then watched as the book tipped forward so slowly that it at first appeared to be stuck. But after a few tense moments, the book flopped to the bottom of the machine and Ya Jing scooped it up with a smile.

Ya Jing and fellow second-grader Mallory Coombes -- whose book lept from the vending machine shelf with no drama -- were given the honor of first selection because they were entered into a raffle along with other students who were seen doing something particularly good.

Elementary West Principal Ryan Wollberg said the school will continue granting trips to the book vending machine to two students via raffle every Monday morning. In addition, students can earn vending machine tokens for trading in 100 ROAR tickets, the district's already established positive behavior reward program.

"We would love to give out as many books as possible," Wollberg said, encouraging local businesses to reach out to the district about partnering with the school district to help keep the machine full. The first company to partner with the district is Lice Clinics of America, based in Vernon Hills.

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The ribbon-cutting event was attended by several local leaders including state Rep. Joyce Mason, who taught in the school district and had a seat on the school board before serving in Springfield.

Gurnee Trustee Thomas Hood was also there, and David Weinstein, the newest Woodland 50 board member, attended with his wife, Erin Cartwright Weinstein, the Lake County circuit court clerk.

"Literacy is the most important thing we can do for our kids so I'm so excited to be here," Mason said.

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