Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School now has a Buddy Bench, and it's all thanks to an idea proposed by a third-grader.
Chloe Shute, who's now in grade 6, suggested the Buddy Bench when she wrote a paper for class about ways to improve the school. She was a new student in third grade, and her old school had a bench. "She told us that she really thought we needed one because sometimes it could be hard for new students to find someone to play with at first," said Amy Aldirch-McAfee, a learning specialist and the director of curriculum and learning.
On September 28, Chloe got to cut the ribbon on the bench as enthusiastic students from all grades cheered.
Buddy benches have become a sort of movement at schools across the country, starting with a boy who proposed one for his school in Pennsylvania in 2013. Their purpose is simple: If a child is sitting alone on the bench, other kids can come over and ask how they're doing or invite them to play.
Chloe's suggestion became the topic of a Friday morning assembly about not keeping ideas to yourself. Head of Lower and Middle School Christy Pollacci reminded students of that lesson before the bench's unveiling.
The timing of the bench's installation is perfect, because this year's theme is kindness. The shiny green bench, made from scratch by Educational Furniture, is nestled under a tree near the playground and lower lawn, where kids play flag football and four-square or climb up and down the equipment during recess and after school.
"I just wanted to do it for fun, and I didn't realize it would become this," Chloe said after the ribbon-cutting, referring to the big show of support from her classmates and teachers. "I'm actually really happy it did."