LEMONT, Ill. (CBS) — Most schools are struggling right now with budget cuts and layoffs, but one small Catholic school in the suburbs has come up with a novel way to try to keep tuition down.

As CBS 2’s Susan Carlson reports, instead of selling candy bars or raffle tickets, the kids are hamming it up with the help of some artists.

The kids of St. Alphonsus-St. Patrick Grade School in Lemont are reading to pigs – rendered in statue form. They’re playing with them too.

“We just hang out and talk,” one student said.

Another student, Michael Porter, imagines that his pig throws lasers.

But the pigs are more than just new friends. The school s hoping the pigs can help them bring in the bacon.

“(The pig) says he wants to bring our school a lot of money, and that he wants to help us get new computers and printers,” said student Makayla Porter.

In a spinoff of Chicago’s 1999 Cows on Parade festival, art students at the American Academy of Art designed the portly creatures. They have colorful, evocative names – Barbie-Q, Jimmy Boar-fett, and Ronnie.

“It’s a tribute to Ron Santo and it has a picture of him, so it’s cool,” said student Holly Porter.

It started as a fundraiser for the small school, but now they’re hogging the spotlight.

“It turned into pig-a-mania for the town of Lemont, and also now it’s spreading to Chicagoland,” said Lisa Simone Porter, art and marketing director for Pigs on Parade.

The pigs have been on display in downtown Chicago at the American Academy of Art, and at neighborhood pub crawls. This coming Friday, they will be showcased at an event called Piggipalooza.

“We’re calling them celeb-u-pigs, where they’re coming onto an entourage on the red carpet by a limousine,” Lisa Simone Porter said.

Eventually all the swell swine must be auctioned off – that is, if the kids can let them go.

“He wants to stay with us,” Makayla Porter said as she stood next to her pig. “I love him.”

Friday’s Piggipalooza is at the COPRE Fitness and Aquatic Complex, at 16050 W. 127th St. in Lemont. It will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.

The pigs will also be featured at the Lemont St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and will be auctioned off next week. Bidding starts at $500 per pig.

For more on the pigs, click here.

For more on Piggipalooza, click here.

Watch & Listen LIVE