Buddy Bench Dedication
The Groton Rotary Club generously donated a buddy bench to the elementary school playground this year. A welcoming place to go on the playground, those who sit on the bench communicate to others that they are looking for someone to play with.

Nick H. explained it this way, "A buddy bench is for when you sit on a bench and wait for some buddy to come over there. It is a good way to get buddies, I think every school should have a buddy bench, not that many people in the world have buddies."

groton buddy

The concept of a buddy bench existed outside the US, but it was a second grader that sparked media attention when he sought out approval for one to be installed at his York, PA elementary school. The idea caught on since that first bench was installed stateside in 2013. Buddy benches are now trending on school playgrounds nationwide. To sit on the bench is a unique way for children to seek peer support and encourages children who see someone at the bench to respond with kindness.

Groton Elementary School Principal Tim Heller said, "We have several new students each year and it is always hard to make new friends. I think we have some kids who are really good at helping out whenever they can, and it is an easy way for them to know who is in need of their help and support."

Teachers shared with their classes the buddy bench concept before the bench's dedication, which took place on Friday, September 11, 2015 during recess.

"I like it because you can hang out with your friends, and make new friends," Brynn B. said.

"I think it's good to have because sometimes people are left out, and they need someone to be with them." said Elizabella H.

"If you need a buddy you sit on it," Tayrn L. commented, "some buddies might be able to help you out with whatever you are dealing with…sometimes people do have bad days and they need somebody to talk to."

The buddy bench can be a launching place for parents to talk with their children about other ways to reach out to others and seek out new friendships.
Back to School
Freshman orientation was well attended at Groton high school on Wednesday evening, September 2, 2015. Students were talking excitedly about starting high school and expelling some nervous energy.

9th grader Lexie S. said " I am kinda scared because I know the classes will be harder, so I know there will be more homework."

Madeline S. remarked, "I am excited because I get to see my friends again, and there are some teachers I am glad to see again, but yet I am nervous because it is a whole new set-up." She added, "I am excited that we can take classes to give us college credits, my cousin actually graduated with an Associates degree and I want to be like her."

The topic of concurrent enrollment was popular with the students, an option for high school students that allows them to earn college credits by taking more challenging high school classes. Some tips for success in high school were shared including getting enough sleep, turning off the cell phone at night, staying organized, and looking for help when needed.

Principal Norris addressed the crowd "I am expecting great things from our district going forward. We are going to be the premier district in this area. I think we are starting in a good place, we have amazing people working behind the scenes and in the forefront and I am looking forward to 2015-16."

Introduced that evening was the new Connections program, designed for high school freshmen to integrate mentorship, instruction, and community service. Teacher Mick Levick introduced the program to the audience of parents and incoming 9th graders. The Connections program is a unique opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships in the school and community, with many upcoming activities planned.

"All the planning we have done has been really exciting, the last part of it is that we really want you to be engaged, we want the community to be engaged," said Jr/Sr High School Principal Laura Norris.

The following evening was orientation for the sixth grade class. Fifth grade graduates are new to the high school building this year. Incoming 6th grader Keira K. commented about the building 'two words-it's big.' Feeling a bit unsure of what to expect was a common feeling held by many 6th graders that evening, '"different teachers' and 'gym classes' were mentioned as things the students were curious about.

When Omari I. was asked what he looks forward to about middle school he stated "6th grade, all of it."

During the orientation there was a tour of the school and especially the sixth grade wing. Students also reviewed their schedules and received their new locker numbers and combinations. The orientation gave parents and students the opportunity to ask questions regarding the coming year and allowed incoming students a chance to meet their teachers.