Vivian Schenk, a first grader at Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston, points out a book in the vending machine Friday to Principal Cindy Gish. Children who do good deeds and acts of kindness are chosen each week to exchange tokens for new books. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — When a new girl joined Vivian Schenk’s first grade class at Geiger Elementary School, Schenk wondered if she could be her new best friend.

She brought her new classmate candy, a bracelet, a key chain and a note to welcome her to their class.

“She genuinely wanted to meet this new student and become friends with (her) and make (her) feel good,” first grade teacher Heather LeCompte said.

Earning a book from Geiger’s new vending machine was a small, unexpected reward for the 7-year-old’s small act of kindness.

Over the past few months, dozens of students like Schenk have earned vending machine tokens for being kind to others. The machine carries popular children’s books of varying reading levels.

Every Friday morning, school administrators look through the “Gator Glory” nominations submitted by staff and select 10 students they feel went above and beyond in their actions. The nominations are submitted by all school staff members, not just teachers.


“I think it’s an amazing program,” LeCompte said. “It’s a nice way to incorporate education and reading and literacy with rewarding kids for just doing good things.”

Students overwhelmingly said tokens should be awarded for good deeds, Principal Cindy Gish said. They also got to provide input on the book selection.

Donated by Lewiston Youth Activity Fund Bingo, the $4,500 machine is colorful, with bright flashing lights. Donna Spugnardi, a member of the group, said it’s just one of many donations the group has made to Lewiston schools in the past 20 years.

“There’s nothing better than a good book,” Spugnardi said. “If you can catch kids early and instill that love of reading, they’re going to continue to read.”

Schenk is no stranger to books. She reads two each day, one in the morning and one with her parents before bed.

She ultimately ended up choosing “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis, a book about a rabbit using its imagination to play with a cardboard box.


“I think that he has a good imagination,” Schenk said. “I think he doesn’t want to be wasteful.” The book encourages kids not to throw things out, she added.

Marcus Therialut, a sixth grader at Geiger, saved his token to use later in the school year.

“I am waiting for the newest ‘Dog Man’ book, ‘Mothering Heights,’” Theriault said. He has the previous books in the series at his house and has read them all.

“Dog Man,” an award-winning graphic novel by author Dav Pilkey, stars a dog headed police officer saving his beloved city with his friends. Theriault earned his token by “holding the door open to people just to be nice.” He also added that he thinks the book vending machine is good for students because “you can get free books that are good to read, and you also know to be kind.”

Fourth grader Khalayah Cabemgulele chose the book “Go Get ‘Em Tiger” by Sabrina Moyle. The book follows a tiger celebrating achievements and overcoming obstacles.

Cabemgulele, who invited a new student to go sledding with her during recess, said she “wanted to make the new student feel good.”

Other students who received tokens Friday morning were recognized for actions, including cleaning the classroom without being told, being polite to cafeteria staff every day and respectfully listening to a guest speaker.

“The world we live in right now, a lot of kind things are not often recognized,” Gish said. “It’s super important now to recognize those little things, so students know it doesn’t have to be this huge, big act that they do for someone.”

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