Hermantown Elementary’s ‘Lunch Bunch Boys’ organize book drive"One, two, three, lunch bunch!” screams a group of second-grade boys at Hermantown Elementary School as they break from their huddle. The six boys are headed back to class after a gathering of the “Lunch Bunch Boys,” a group that meets every Thursday during their lunch hour.
"One, two, three, lunch bunch!” screams a group of second-grade boys at Hermantown Elementary School as they break from their huddle. The six boys are headed back to class after a gathering of the “Lunch Bunch Boys,” a group that meets every Thursday during their lunch hour.
Pam Pilon, a paraprofessional in Patty Miller’s second grade classroom, started the group last year to give students a chance to advance their social skills. Pilon says the group meets in the school’s activity room to eat lunch together, play, read books, and discuss a new topic each week.
Members of the Lunch Bunch Boys include Marcus Agnich, Noah Randa, Jimmy Gerth, Brendan Hanson, Shane Michalski and Logan Adams.
“They are such a neat group of kids that all meet together,” said Pilon, who has worked at Hermantown Elementary for three years. “I don’t even take a lunch break any longer with the staff. I eat with second-grade boys.”
Last December, Pilon’s husband gave her $20 to throw a holiday pizza party for the Lunch Bunch Boys. The day she brought the money in, she read the boys a book called “Reach Out and Give” by Cheri J. Meiners, to teach the students about generosity.
“I read the book, and the kids said, ‘Why don’t we give that money to someone else,’” Pilon said. “The book had some good ideas on how to give back to your community, and we decided to do a book drive because it would be cool and easy to do.”
“It was also important to them because they knew that reading time was a big part of our group, and it touched them to know that there were lots of kids that didn’t have books,” Pilon added.
The book drive ran Feb. 1 through the 17th, and in less than three weeks, the Lunch Bunch Boys managed to collect more than 800 books for children who may not have books in their home.
“I was excited because we get to help kids that don’t have books,” said eight-year-old Jimmy.
“It’s really nice to do it for other children in other schools,” added eight-year-old Shane.
When the idea for a book drive came about, Pilon said she wanted to coordinate it with the school’s All-Star Reader program that takes place from February until April. The Lunch Bunch Boys started making posters and flyers to get the word out about the drive.
Pilon took the $20 that initiated the project and bought T-shirts for the boys that said “Lunch Bunch Loves Books.” The group wore the shirts to an all-school assembly where they made an announcement about the book drive, and then all the students and staff read for 15 minutes as part of the All-Star Reader program.
After sending flyers about the book drive home with children who live in Hermantown, the Lunch Bunch Boys set up a box in the lobby of the school for people to donate books. During the first week of the drive, 200 books were collected, and in the last week, more than 600 books were brought in.
“We got like 870 books,” said seven-year-old Noah.
“They were so excited they were counting the books by tens and reading through them,” Pilon said.
Seven-year-old Logan said his favorite part of the book drive was counting the books. His favorite book was an electronic book about motorcycles that made noises when it was read.
Volunteers came in after the book drive to help organize the books according to reading levels. After they are sorted, the books will be donated to Laura MacArthur Elementary School in Duluth.
Volunteer Amy Wolcott, whose daughter is in second grade at Hermantown Elementary, said Pilon did a great job of getting the kids excited about reading. Hermantown Elementary Principal Deb Tabor said the Lunch Bunch Boys deserve a lot of credit for their work.
“They are an awesome group, and they are very proud of what they’ve done,” Tabor said. “Mrs. Pilon was just looking for a positive venue for these guys. She always goes above and beyond to provide positive experiences for our students.”
Though the book drive is over, the Lunch Bunch Boys will continue meeting in their usual spot– the activity room–to play together and learn together. Pilon says she enjoys talking with the boys about friendship, conflict resolution, and sharing.
“They are all so quirky and funny and different in their own little ways,” Pilon said. “They fill my heart every time I’m with them.”