GREAT FALLS — At most school in Great Falls - including Mountain View Elementary School - you can find a lot of books. Something you can't find in every school, though, is a book vending machine.
Mountain View received a grant worth nearly $8,000 for the book vending machine and about 300 books.
The Great Falls Public Schools Foundation provided the grant for the school, and many students have already gotten a crack at the vending machine.
Sixth-graders Kaylee Hammond, Elizabeth O'Leary, and Raelin Keggi were a few students who helped fundraise for the machine and books last year and even got to pie a teacher in the face for their efforts.
It was all for a good cause as they and the rest of their classmates have a new set of books to choose from.
All three said they love to read for many reasons - taking them to another world, sitting down and being calmed, alone, and relaxed - and now, there are plenty of new books to help them and the school.
The machine was installed during the Christmas break, and to the surprise of many, they now have a new way to get books.
The school also uses it as a sort of reward system. When students show pride in one of several ways, they can get rewarded by getting a new book, a system they think could be implemented into other schools as well.
Mountain View principal Jennifer Martyn says she only knows about three vending machines total in the state - this one, one in Helena, and one on the eastern side of the state.
"It's something that's really sweet and dear to my heart," Martin said, who is also a former reading teacher. "I know how important it is to get books in kids hands and to allow them to have access and have books at home whether it's reading to a parent or sibling or pet. And we've spent over a year planning on this coming, it's really fun for the kids, and I'm hoping it's something that can stay here for a long legacy."
She has talked with other principals in the district and she anticipates more vending machines like this coming to other schools in town.
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