MAHOPAC, N.Y. -- Students at Lakeview Elementary School don't have to worry about being the odd the man out and not have anyone to play with or talk to during recess.
That's because forward-thinking staff members decided to do something about the problem by finding the funds to purchase a "Buddy Bench."
“If a student feels left out on the schoolyard, he or she can sit on the bench, and other students will know that that person needs someone to play with,” said Lakeview Kindergarten teacher Jenn Borst during a recent ribbon cutting event to unveil the bench.
Last year, Borst said, kindergarten students started using an unofficial buddy bench.
“It was so successful that kindergarten teachers asked for a grant from the Mahopac Education Foundation to purchase an official one this year,” Borst said. “The students loved it.”
The concept of the Buddy Bench was introduced in 2013 by a first grader at a school in Pennsylvania, and it has taken off in schools throughout the country ever since.
After the ribbon cutting, students watched a video in which five ROCKS (the school acronym for Respectful, Organized, Cooperative, Kind and Safe) “ambassadors” acted out situations in which the buddy bench would be useful.
“We made the video to introduce students to this concept and assist them in utilizing it,” said Lakeview teacher Leigh Galione, who, with social worker Jill Iglesias, helped put together the video.
The Buddy Bench was received enthusiastically by students, who couldn’t wait to sit on it after the ribbon was cut.
“It can really help kids who are feeling alone by getting them a friend,” said 5th-grade student Charles Woolley.
Lakeview Principal Jennifer Pontillo hopes the bench will ensure that every child is able to make the most out of recess.
“The goal is that no child is outside at recess with nothing to do,” she said.
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