MAYFLOWER — With the community’s support and money raised during the school’s annual fall festival fundraising event, the Mayflower Elementary School officially unveiled its book vending machine Friday morning.

Principal Candie Watts said she was excited to bring life to the school’s book vending machine project and that children can begin working to earn books starting Monday.

The project was made possible by community donors and fundraising efforts during the school’s fall festival, she said.

One student from each grade (kindergarten through fourth grade) accompanied Watts, Rene Henderson, who organizes a local book club, First Grade Teacher and Parent Teacher Organization Secretary Michelle Stafford, PTO President Tosha Mitchell and Arkansas Community Foundation board member Barrett Petty for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting celebration Friday morning.

Kindergartener Kenzie Woods, first grader Joshua Acosta, second grader Elisabeth Patton, third grader Aiden Cox and fourth grader Adah Matthews took part in the unveiling ceremony.

The book vending machine features “Inchy’s Bookworm Incentive.”

The program inspires children to work hard and encourage their classmates to succeed in order to earn a golden coin. Each week, faculty will award one child in each grade level with a golden coin to use to select a book from the vending machine, which is located in the school’s main lobby.

Students can be considered for a coin by:

  • Having perfect attendance
  • Being punctual
  • Having an exceptional work ethic
  • Showing improvement
  • Knowing their math facts
  • Having perseverance
  • Being kind

Elementary teachers will award one student with a golden coin at 8 a.m. every Friday.

“If you’re the winner, you will be invited to cash in your coin for a free book,” Watts said. “Other surprise staff members will also be on the look out for students who deserve a golden coin.”

Along with this reading initiative, the elementary principal said the school also purchases a book for each child quarterly.

Making projects such as this a reality is made possible through community sponsorship, Henderson said.

“Partnerships make the possibilities so much stronger,” she said. “I’m excited about being even a small part or the result of these collaborations.”

Petty said the Faulkner County Affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation was proud to donate $750 toward this project.

The group promotes encouraging students to read and helping them to increase their reading abilities, he said.

“As a licensed educator and a board member of the Faulkner County Affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation, I researched schools in the county and found that Mayflower Elementary had some struggles pertaining to this area,” Petty said. “I met with Mrs. Candie Watts and also did classroom observations with her. I determined that Faulkner County Affiliate could really help Mayflower Elementary by proving the funds to cover one [nine-week period] worth of books.”

The Faulkner County Affiliate’s educational venture task force approved the Mayflower donation.

Inchy’s Bookwork Incentive officially kicks off Monday.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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