Langdon Area Elementary School (LAES) students have a new feature to their playground thanks to the hard work of one of their instructors and the generosity of a local business.
By Melissa Anderson
A “Buddy Bench” was recently installed to the playground as a means of insuring every child has fun during recess.
LAES instructor Missy Hiltner got the idea for the “Buddy Bench” for LAES when she began to see it appearing in her research, through various connections at other schools and from other teachers accross the country
“It is a relatively new concept that fosters friendship and good character,” Hiltner explained, “I thought this was a great idea for Langdon Area Elementary and quickly brought it to the attention of our administration.”
As Hiltner and the administration were discussing the concept with the elementary staff and administration, Chalmer Dettler , President of Farmers and Merchants Bank in Langdon, heard about the new project and approached Hiltner about writing a proposal so the bank could learn more about it.
“About a week later, we received notification that the FM Bank would fund the entire project,” Hiltner stated, “It was so exciting! This project will not only help students this year but for many more years to come.”
A Buddy Bench is a specially designated bench were children can sit during recess if they are lonely or become bored. The idea behind the bench is to teach the other children to foster friendships and to eliminate exclusion and loneliness by noticing kids on the bench and inviting them to play.
“Mr. Hetler demonstrated how the Buddy Bench works during a school-wide lyceum,” Hiltner said.
The idea of the Buddy Bench was originally proposed by a second-grade Pennsylvania boy named Christian Bucks. Buck’s family was relocating, and he was concerned with how difficult it may be to make friends in a new environment and with some social anxieties. As his story went public, many schools throughout the United States have adopted Christian’s idea and have installed buddy benches in their school play yard, yielding much success and many new, unlikely friendships.
“I think anytime the school can work collaboratively to foster positive relationships and teach students how to care for one another, it only makes our students and our community stronger,” Hiltner said, “There seems to be too much hate and negativity in the world so let’s teach our students empathy, care and compassion. This was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”
Hiltner and the entire LAES faculty is continually amazed by the community of Langdon as, time and time again, it continues toshow such extensive supportto the students and faculty with their generosity.
“The continual support shown to the children of this community and the work that is tirelessly done to make this a positive, caring environment to grow up in is just so amazing,” Hiltner said.
“We, at the Elementary, are grateful for the generous donation from F&M Bank for the Buddy Bench on the elementary playground,” Hiltner added.
The Buddy Bench is a project that will touch students lives in so many positive ways for many years to come. The donation of a Buddy Bench to Langdon Area Elementary creates the perfect opportunity for the school and its families to discuss the importance of kindness, compassion and long-lasting friendship with students. It will also serve as a platform to show just how contagious a simple act of kindness can be. These skills taught at an early age, research shows, help children become successful, caring adults.