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buddybench kids3 120It's inevitable that some kids will feel alone at recess, watching their classmates play while they sit apart, wishing some one would play with them.  Last Friday the entire RC Buckley Elementary School population was on the playground to celebrate the unveiling of two 'Buddy Benches' that they hope will solve that dilemma.  The idea is simple: when a kid wants someone to play with or just to make a new friend he or she sits on the bench.  That's a signal for other kids to come over and invite that kid to play.

"This is something that has swept the nation," said Principal Christine Rebera.  "It started with one student who thought it was a good idea to have the playground be a place of friendship.  They needed a buddy bench because some kids were on the playground and didn't know how to make a friend, or didn't have someone to play with that day.  He had this idea and they did that at his school."

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In America the idea started with first grader Christian Bucks, of York, PA.  When his father was thinking about moving his family to Germany for a job transfer, Bucks looked up the school he would go to on the Internet.  That school had a buddy bench, and Bucks was excited by the idea.  It turned out his family didn't move, so he brought his idea to Principal Matthew Miller at the end of the school year, and it became a reality when Bucks was in second grade in 2013.

The story hit the national news and buddy benches began sprouting up all over the United States.  Lansing Elementary Special Education teacher Carmela MacKenzie saw a news report, and brought the idea to Rebera.   After several meetings School Counselor Laura May volunteered to spearhead the project.  She enlisted Outdoor Recreation Services Teacher Mike Ionello's and Aide Lynn Swearingen's World of Work students to build two benches, one for each playground at the elementary school.  RC Buckley art teacher Brittany Novitzki was enlisted to paint them.

buddybench creatorsTST BOCES students built the two benches led by teacher Mike Ionello (right) and and aid Lynn Swearingen (left). RC Buckley art teacher Brittany Novitzki (far left) painted them.

buddybench revealMay, Novitzki and Rebera unveiled the benches

buddybench kidsandreberaThe entire school attended the unveiling. Principal Christine Rebera (right) led the festivities.

"A buddy bench is a place where students can sit if they need a buddy to play with during playground time, or someone to talk to, or if they find themselves alone and not sure how to join in a game," Rebera said.  "They go to the buddy bench.  We teach the kids how to respond to somebody who is sitting on the buddy bench.  To go over and invite them to play, or invite someone to talk and be their buddy."

Rebera thanked a large number of people who were involved in making the project happen.  As the benches were being completed fourth grade student council members were enlisted to teach their classmates what the benches are for and demonstrate how to use them.  They made a video that was shared with the entire school.

Friday the council members were called on to sing the 'Buddy Bench Song' they also composed to the tune of 'Lollipop', originally written by written by Julius Dixson and Beverly Ross in 1958 and made popular by the Chordettes.

May, Novitzki and Rebera unveiled the benches to much applause.  Rebera said they will be installed on the playgrounds soon, and the conversation will continue as school officials evaluate how they are working.

"What I know about RC Buckley is that we have a lot of great friends," she said.  "Everyone here is going to take care of each other so everyone has someone to play with at recess."

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