Lower School “Buddy Benches” Inspire Kindness

Two new “Buddy Benches” on Collegiate’s Lower School campus — one near Fort Cougar and the other near the Estes Building patio — were installed last week to teach students about empathy and inclusiveness.
Buddy Benches, the brainchild of a student at an elementary school in Pennsylvania, aim to spread inclusiveness and kindness by fostering friendship and eliminating loneliness on the playground.
 
Last spring, 1st Grade teacher Sallie Tinney, who is now retired, shared the idea of bringing Buddy Benches to Collegiate. Two benches were purchased with the help of Assistant Director of the Physical Plant Robert Moore.
 
A committee of 3rd Graders, now in the 4th Grade, met with former Lower School guidance counselor Marella Gregory to help educate Lower School students about the benches and their purpose. Two other students served as designers and met with Visual Art Chair and Lower School art teacher Dana DuMont to decorate the benches.
 
The benches, which students can use at recess, reflect who Collegiate is as a school and supports our values and pillars of Responsible Citizenship, says Laura Fields, Assistant Head of the Lower School, who spearheaded the project.
 
“It’s a simple idea that teaches our students to be mindful of including others who may feel left out or need some help joining in,” she said. “But it’s also about recognizing when that is happening and approaching someone in a respectful way.”
 
After nearly a year of careful planning, the bench unveiling and installation took place.  

“The students have told me they think the benches are a good idea because being lonely on the playground is just unacceptable,” Mrs. Fields said.
 
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  • Allison Williams
    One of the books in this year's Virginia Readers Choice list is "What Do You Do With an Idea?", a lovely celebration of creativity and the power of invention. I ask the children in Second Grade (last year's First Graders) if they can think of any idea here at Collegiate that grew and went into the world, and without exception, each class has enthusiastically responded, "The Buddy Bench!" This is an idea that will have a far-reaching effect, I am sure.