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Candler Students Inspire Pencil Donation
Candler Students Inspire Pencil Donation
Posted on 02/21/2020
Branson Reese and Kirill Heyko taught their classmates a valuable lesson: kids can make a difference!Kirill Heyko (left) and Branson Reese pose with pencils donated by John McClung Roofing.“Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Branson Reese and Kirill Heyko taught their classmates a valuable lesson: kids can make a difference!

A few weeks ago, the two Candler Elementary School fourth-graders noticed some of their classmates were low on pencils. As elementary school students, their only “currency” comes in the form of PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) Tickets, used to reward healthy choices and good behavior with items from the school store and access to fun reward activities. Pencils cost 10 tickets for a pack. Branson and Kirill decided to forgo their PBIS rewards in order to buy pencils for their classmates.

“We started something that helps a lot of people. And it’s making other people want to do good things too.” - Kirill Heyko, fourth-grader at Candler Elementary“I just came up with the idea at lunch and told Kirill,” Branson said. “We got a few other kids involved, but we never thought it would get this big.”

They started a school company called Pencil Inc., and set up a ticket donation box outside the classroom of their teacher, Ms. Craig. The idea caught on across the fourth grade, and pretty soon Branson and Kirill had collected enough tickets for hundreds of pencils. The scope expanded from Ms. Craig’s class to all of fourth grade and then to the entire school.

“It makes me feel pretty good to help other people,” Kirill said. “We started something that helps a lot of people. And it’s making other people want to do good things too.”

Darien McClung, a fourth-grade instructional assistant at the school, heard about the donation drive and shared the idea with her parents, John and Carrie McClung, of John McClung Roofing. That led to an even bigger expansion.

“I saw Branson and Kirill putting up posters, and I wondered what they were doing,” Ms. Darien McClung said. “It was second-nature for them to just do something that mattered. They didn’t think twice. I just had to share the story.”

The McClungs loved the idea so much, they decided to donate 7,500 pencils, enough for every elementary school in the Enka and Erwin districts.

“You guys really inspired us to do something,” John McClung said. “It meant a lot for us to see kids like you wanting to be compassionate.”

Now, the “compassion bug” has caught on throughout the school, said Principal Charlotte Hipps.

“Students are waking up to the idea that little people can make a big difference,” she said. “A group of girls even started a Litter Club here at Candler. The kids are finding ways to help their community, and we’re really proud of them.”

“Do you remember our vocabulary word, ‘impact’?” Ms. Craig asked her class on Wednesday. “I’m feeling like that word is appropriate today. You never know what your kindness can do for someone else, how it’s going to impact them, how it’s going to bless other people.”

Look for coverage of this story on an upcoming "Never Stop Learning" segment from ABC New 13 (WLOS).

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