5th Graders Want Everyone to Have a Buddy
Seeing through the eyes of compassion is evident in Ms. Gilday’s 5th Grade class. Recently, these special 5th graders wrote a letter suggesting an idea for a fundraiser: a “Buddy Bench” on the Lower School playground. Not wanting any classmate to be left without a friend to play with at recess, this group of 10- and 11-year-olds suggested a visual cue—the Buddy Bench—that would alert fellow students that someone needs a friend to play with at recess.
“Then, someone can come over and you both can play!” the kids explained.
In a follow-up letter, one of the students shared: “School can be hard without good friendships, and the Buddy Bench will give us opportunities to build stronger relationships.” Another student wrote: “A Buddy Bench can help prevent people from getting social anxiety before it’s too late. Before my last school had a Buddy Bench, younger me had to go through the feeling of having no friends, which is not fun! I don’t want people to have to go through something that is so hard.”
Signed by all members of the class, the original Buddy Bench letter demonstrated the sincerity of the request as the class was willing to do the work to get it done: “If needed, we will fundraise for the bench’s expenses.” The class has already started making posters and plans for communicating the Buddy Bench to the rest of the student body. Their goal was to have the Buddy Bench installed this year.
In just a few short weeks, two PCA families have already stepped up to support these compassionate souls and their mission to make their school a welcoming space for all. In fact, because of donor support, we are able to add TWO Buddy Benches to the Lower School Playground!
Director of Development, Elaina Russo, updated Ms. Gilday’s 5th grade class with the amazing news that donors were going to fund the purchase of materials and lumber for the Buddy Benches. The students were over the moon! Their enthusiasm was contagious as they learned that what started as a suggestion is becoming a reality.
Students were gob smacked upon learning that adults wanted to fund their idea for the Buddy Bench.
One donor family wrote directly to Ms. Gilday’s 5th graders, saying: “Thank you for being a good friend. Keep being kind and thoughtful. God loves you.”
While the students no longer need to fundraise for the benches because of donor support, they are committed to continuing their efforts to get the word out and share with the other classes in grades K-5 the purpose of the Buddy Bench and what to do when a student sees a classmate on it. They have also pledged to paint and decorate the Buddy Benches once they are installed.
Ms. Gilday’s class will continue making posters to educate their fellow students and will make presentations to them about the Buddy Bench. They are also committed to having Buddy Bench Ambassadors added to their homeroom’s Chore Chart, so that there is always someone responsible for looking out for a classmate who needs a buddy.
These students are bringing to life one of PCA’s core values—Compassionate Community—and its inspiration is spreading. One of our donor families commented: “When we learned that the students themselves had come up with this idea, and how it showed their hearts for caring for each other, we knew we had to get behind this.”
Also in attendance at the update meeting were Lower School Principal Dr. Carrie Abood, Head of School Mike Runey, and Board Member Bill Bryce.
Bryce, impressed with the students’ idea and initiative, spoke directly to the students tying their Buddy Bench idea to another of PCA’s core values, Christ-Centeredness: “You all are acting like Jesus with this Buddy Bench, making other kids feel loved and seen. That’s a real good thing you’re doing.”
Next up for the Buddy Benches: building, installing, and decorating; and communicating to Grades K-5 the purpose and practice of the Buddy Benches.
Thank you to our donor families!
If you would like to donate to PCA’s Eagle Fund, we’d be blessed by your support, or to learn more about PCA’s 10-year Plan—including our playground renovation—please reach out to Elaina Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org.