Board Support & Communications Specialist
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On the primary playground at Rose Elementary School, there is a new place for students to go when they are looking for friends thanks to fourth graders Eva Saucedo and Alexis Tritton. If a kid is lonely, they can sit on a bench that reads “Buddy Bench,” which will provide a signal to other kids to ask them to play.
“We hope that the buddy bench brings out kindness and acceptance in our students,” Assistant Principal Lori Nuno said. “The buddy bench encourages our primary students to take risks and get to know someone they may not have met or maybe only know because they have seen them playing on the playground.”
Tritton said she got the idea for the project from a school one of her friends attends. Saucedo said when she joined Rose in second grade, having a buddy bench would have helped her develop friendships sooner and she is excited to see students making new friends because of it.
“I think it makes the school a better place,” Tritton said.
Saucedo and Tritton approached Principal Nanci Pass and Nuno with the idea of purchasing a buddy bench last school year. They discussed how to get the funding and encouraged them to bring it to the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. The girls researched the specific bench and color they wanted, along with the cost then they used their lunchtime to draw up a plan to present to the PTO. Saucedo and Tritton approached the organization at its September 21 meeting.
“The most intriguing thing I found with it was the fact that they came up with such a great idea on their own, and presented it to us,” PTO President Valerie Negrito said. “They were prepared with an actual company that we can purchase from. They did the homework on something they felt strongly about beforehand.”
The PTO voted to fund their idea, and paid for the bench, which cost approximately $1,000. The bench was installed on March 28. Both Tritton and Saucedo shared their excitement in making a mark on the school with something that will be in place long after they are gone.
“The buddy bench is just one way our school community supports our students in turning an idea into something real through perseverance, hard work, and patience,” Nuno said. “Without Eva and Alexis' willingness to put the work into bringing the buddy bench to Rose, the buddy bench would have stayed just what it started out as … just an idea. Our students need to know that the greatest things have come from ideas, whether great or small. However, it's the work that is put into that idea that makes it so great.”
Negrito admitted that having a buddy bench would have helped bring out her shyness when she was in school.
“I was such a soft spoken, and shy one back then,” she said. “Being surrounded by same face friends made me comfortable with specific people. This perhaps would've broke that down for me to come out of my shell and get to know others.”