Robert F. Schultz Elementary may be getting a “buddy bench” in the near future, thanks to two persistent third-graders.
A buddy bench is basically a marked park bench at a school’s outdoor playground. If a student doesn’t have someone to play with, they sit on the bench and a student who is designated to be a “bench buddy” will come over to talk, play or find them a friend.
“The buddy bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground,” states the website buddybench.org. The idea is becoming more popular around the world, and some educators think the benches can help prevent bullying.
Best friends Addison Reed and Chloe Stewart presented their idea to install a buddy bench at Schultz during the Delaware Board of Education meeting on Monday.
“Chloe just moved to Delaware when she started kindergarten,” Reed said. “She was shy and nervous about going to school. I on the other hand, was extremely excited about starting school.”
“Addison knew I was nervous about school,” Stewart said. “She helped me by playing with me at recess, eating lunch with and walking to school with me. If Addison wouldn’t have been my friend, school would be terrible. A buddy bench would have really helped.”
Counselor Sarah DeLong said the girls showed her a newspaper article about a buddy bench in another Ohio community, and later told her they knew how they could fund the project.
There will be a “Spare Change Drive” at Schultz on Nov. 2-23. The goal is to collect $1,000 by collecting spare change in each classroom for three weeks. The money will be used for the materials to build and install the bench. Dylan Jebode, a student at Hayes High School, will design and build the wooden bench for his Eagle Scout project.
Bench companies are now making buddy benches, and a Google search yielded prices ranging from $465.85 to $798.85.
Principal Travis Woodworth said the buddy bench is an example of the “legendary kindness” the school seeks to teach its students.
Woodworth also discussed “off-track” students in grades K-3 and new ways to help them, or “focused interventions” — a reading camp, and a Pacer period, which Woodworth described as personalized learning.
Superintendent Paul Craft said Schultz is the fastest-growing school in the district for the seventh year in a row.