Up Close: The PEZ Queen Of Oquirrh Hills Middle School
RIVERTON, Utah – The first weeks of school are always a little hectic as students try to get adjusted, but there to help keep them in check is Kimberly Navratil.
She seems to do it all from her desk in the main office at Oquirrh Hills Middle School in the Jordan School District. Kimberly is the attendance secretary, and right by her desk she keeps a secret stash of little brick candies that feed her amazing collection.
Well, actually it’s not a secret all. In fact, it’s all there for everyone to see: PEZ dispensers. There’s not just a few, or even a few dozen, but hundreds of them all set up in a particular order right behind her desk.
“Parents and students, when I’m talking to them, all of a sudden they look up behind me and you can see their face: ‘Holy cow,'” Kimberly said to KSL’s Dan Rascon.
Kimberly has so many of them that she starts setting them up several weeks before school starts. Many of them are placed on custom built shelves.
“It’s kind of a new adventure every time I open it up,” she said. “It’s a trip down memory lane.”
As she’s setting up her 350 single PEZ dispensers, plus another 25 set displays of them, she has to be very careful not to knock one over.
“Got to be careful. That domino effect has bit me before,” she said with a laugh. “I keep the Disney figures separate. ‘Star Wars’ is in a different container. These are my unique ones – Energizer Bunny, Jack and Sally ‘Nightmare Before Christmas.’”
The PEZ Queen, as students affectionately call her, started all this by accident. It was a white elephant gift she received from the principal that came in a can. When she opened the can there were a few PEZ dispensers inside, and it just took off from there.
“People started to say, ‘Oh you collect PEZ?’ and started giving me a PEZ dispenser,” she said. “Next thing I know I have 20 PEZ dispensers within a week or two.”
It’s more than just a great little treat for kids and a cool thing to look at. For Kimberly, it’s a great way to get kids to open up.
“PEZ is a good ice breaker because I sweeten them up with a piece of candy and then they talk to me about the PEZ,” she said. “It’s just a huge conversation piece. Sometimes it’s nice to think about something other than school and have little fun and eat a piece of PEZ candy at the same time.”