After a few years of planning, Reed Elementary finally unveiled its Buddy Bench on Friday, April 1. To celebrate this new addition, Cyndi Willenbrock, author and producer of a children’s book that deals with the issues of inclusion and bullying, visited Reed Elementary and did a book reading.
Friday morning, students gathered in the gym to hear the story, “Marshall the Miracle Dog,” which describes an animal rescue and subsequent adoption. Marshall, the dog for whom the book was written, visited with students as they discussed how acceptance and empathy can change a life. After the reading, students performed a skit on how to use the new Buddy Bench.
The Buddy Bench is just that—a bench installed on the playground where students can approach one another and invite classmates to play. The concept of the bench began when one boy at an elementary school in Pennsylvania wanted to make sure students weren’t lonely and feeling left out during recess. When students and staff members at Reed Elementary heard about this new way to foster friendships, the process to build a bench began.
“Our students and staff were inspired by the story,” Principal Chris Schreiner said. “Everyone rallied around the idea of the Buddy Bench and put effort into ensuring that all students feel they belong, and that says something about the excellent character of our students and staff we have here at Reed Elementary.”
The Panther Council, consisting of representatives from the 2nd- 4th grade classes, did research on the benches with help from the school counselor and teachers. The students not only read about how the bench could be used, but also met with maintenance workers to decide on the best materials from which to make the bench, and with recess supervisors on where to place the bench.
Karen Sumner, former Special School District Resource Teacher, was also inspired by the story. So, as a retirement gift back to the school, Karen purchased the bench for Reed. Click here to read more about the Buddy Bench.