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Minnesota boy sharpens 'a million' pencils, builds social media following

Lucas Kacer has autism. Pencil sharpening is his thing.

ANDOVER, Minn. — In the digital age, bright yellow paint can seem like the only thing keeping pencils from feeling a little dull.

But in a split-level house in Andover, pencils never stop feeling sharp.

“Look at that,” 9-year-old Lucas Kacer says as he touches the newly sharpened end of a No. 2 pencil.

Sharpen, touch.

Sharpen, touch.

It’s a routine Lucas knows well.

“Every day,” Alison Kacer says.

Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE 11
Nine-year-old Lucas Kacer sharpens pencils at his home in Andover, Minnesota.

Alison is mom to the boy whose propensity for grinding wood could impress a chainsaw-wielding beaver.

How many pencils has the fourth grader sharpened?

“I would say at least a million,” Lucas’ mother says.

A million pencils?

“Uh, huh,” Alison confirms.

Lucas started sharpening pencils in his grandpa’s workshop when he was 4 years old.

Not long after, he received a pencil sharpener of his own.

“This is my really first sharpener,” Lucas says, holding up the hand crank pencil sharpener his grandparents gave him for his fifth birthday.

Lucas’ first sharpener was far from his last.

Standing at a worktable in the lower level of his home, Lucas picks up one pencil sharpener after another.  

“The Teacher Pro,” he says, naming the make.  


“My Bostitch,” Lucas continues.

Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE 11
Lucas Kacer opens the lid on a box of pencils he’s sharpened. Others fill the shelves next to him.

Dozens of sharpeners, both manual and electric, occupy his desktop and drawers.  

“I filled my whole power strip,” Lucas says as he pulls plugs to make way for even more sharpeners.

Behind Lucas, on a shelf, sits the timer his parents bought him to remind Lucas to give each sharpener an occasional rest before he burns out any more motors.

“We always say, 'It might be heavy duty, but it's not Lucas duty,'” his mother laughs.

Lucas’ motor never seems to quit.  

“At 4 years old, Lucas was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder,” Alison explains.

Children with autism often have areas of deep interest.

“He has a deep interest in pencils and pencil sharpening,” Lucas’ mother says.

Lucas also has nearly 3,000 Facebook followers, whose interest is keeping Lucas stocked with pencils.

Tens of thousands of pencils sit neatly packed in boxes and storage bins, most of them donated by Lucas’ followers.

Lucas’s mom points to a bookcase packed with pencils.

Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE 11
Special education teacher Donna Macoskey shows Lucas Kacer a thank you note from a teacher whose classroom Lucas supplied with sharp pencils.

“Lucas could go through those two shelves right there in a matter of 12 hours,” she says.

What’s true at home, is also true at Andover Elementary School, where Lucas is a fourth grader.

“He would do it all day long if I would let him,” Donna Macoskey, Lucas’s special education teacher says of Lucas’ pencil sharpening.

Macoskey says Lucas’ brain can sometimes get overactive.

“And how does this help you?” she asks Lucas, who’s standing at a small table sharpening pencils.

“Get back on focus,” he responds to his teacher.

“He’ll sharpen pencils for five minutes and he’ll come back and he can focus,” Macoskey says. “And then he can get back to work.”

But Lucas’ efforts are not just for himself.

Lucas supplies the classrooms at Andover Elementary with sharp pencils.

He’s done the same for the two other elementary schools in Andover.

During a recent hand delivery, third-grade teacher Rob Scott praised Lucas for his work.

“I'd like everybody to say, 'Thank you, Lucas,'” he instructed his class.

“Thank you, Lucas,” the class responded as Lucas beamed.

Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE 11
Fourth-grader Lucas Kacer gets a hug from Rob Scott, a teacher in of the classrooms Lucas supplies with sharp pencils.

More appreciation arrives in the mail.

“Lucas, thank you for sharing your pencil-sharpening skills,” reads one of the many letters Lucas has received from both donors and recipients of his pencils.

“I'm going to cry,” Lucas’ mother says as she reads the cards.

“People don't understand why he likes to sharpen pencils for hours, but they still accept him, who he is,” Alison continues. “That's big.”

Lucas’ parents even came up with a use for the gallons of shaving Lucas creates with his pencil sharpening.

They’ve mixed them with wax to create fire starters.

“Just to give them out to people and spread some awareness for autism,” Alison says.

After school, Lucas moves from sharpener to sharpener, creating a symphony of sound.

“Can you hear all that?” Lucas asks over the din.

Asked about the noise, his mother says, “I don't think we hear it anymore, to be honest with you.”

Credit: Chad Nelson/KARE 11
Alison and Geoff Kacer share a laugh while opening some of the covers on their son’s stash of pencils.

Lucas’ parents do hear and see what’s important.

“He's exactly who he was made to be and if that's sharpening pencils that's what we'll do for him,” Alison says.  

Sharp mom and dad.

Shining son.

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