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LOGAN — Logan Middle School is now home to a book vending machine, one of a few of its kind in the state.

Logan Middle School fifth-grader Macy Plumley and Logan County Schools Superintendent Patricia Lucas cut the ribbon to the machine during a small ceremony in the school’s commons area Tuesday morning. The machine, manufactured by Global Vending Group, is known as the “Inchy the Bookworm” machine and looks nearly identical to a snack vending machine, but instead contains books that are bought with special tokens.

The books are arranged by grade level, and students earn tokens for the machine through various ways, such as reading time, attendance rate, good behavior and achieving different levels in their classes. After they are bought, the books are the students’ to keep.

Kara Wiley, an eighth-grade reading and language arts teacher at the school, saw a photo of one online and forwarded it to Principal Brian Atkinson. After some research, they both saw it as a way to foster a habit of reading for pleasure, which builds vocabulary, comprehension and general academic success.

“We’re really excited to have this here for our school,” Wiley said. “It’s important to dream because things like this can happen, and I’m really excited. I think our students are really excited, and we can’t stress the importance of literacy and the importance of reading, and it’s more than just reading a book you enjoy. This is improving your vocabulary. It’s improving how you interact with the world and other people. It’s improving your writing, and more than anything, we need a literate society, regardless of where our students are going after high school.”

According to Atkinson, several community business sponsors, including Logan Regional Medical Center, White Eye Care, Chapmanville Primary Care, ResCare, BlackHawk Mining and Boyd Cat Machinery, donated more than $4,000 to make the machine a reality.

“This machine came from our community,” Atkinson said. “Our community supports our reading program, our reading initiatives and wants our students to read … when I had those discussions with those businesses and our community partners, they were very, very interested in making sure our students have that choice to read for pleasure, versus having that ‘you’ve got to read this.’ Everybody enjoys a book more when you get to pick it out and you get to turn through the pages.”

Atkinson said that according to the company that manufactured the machine, there are only about five in the state, the closest being at Sophia Elementary School in Raleigh County. One is at the Greenbrier, and the remaining machines are in the northeast part of the state.

“You are looking at the only machine of this kind in southern West Virginia west of I-77,” Atkinson said. “It’s right here in Logan County, and it’s right here at Logan Middle School for our students with the support of our community.”

Following the ribbon cutting, a group of students who had no absences for the second nine weeks of the school year were given tokens, becoming the first students to buy books from the machine. Atkinson said books will be added to the machine from various donations, libraries and grants.

HD Media news reporter Dylan Vidovich can be contacted via email at dvidovich@HDMediaLLC.com.

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