Who’s Your Buddy?

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen CampusBuddyDay_JK_1

One of the truly endearing “extras” at St. Francis is a longtime tradition of “Buddy Days”! I can’t recall having written about this in a long while, and many newcomers may not really be familiar with the initiative, so I thought this week would be most appropriate as we kicked it off on Tuesday.

As long as I’ve been a member of the SFS community, there has always been the Buddy Program. Each student in Lower School is paired with a “buddy” in Middle School. To make it even more charming, the 8th grade gets paired with kindergarten and junior kindergarten, the 7th grade with 1st graders and so on down the line. Every four to six weeks or so (usually centered around holidays or special days at St. Francis), our buddies get together and engage in an activity. It may be as simple as reading to each other, or just playing outdoors, or “trick-or-treating,” but the relationships that form are often very strong. One of the “fringe benefits” of such a program is the pro-social bonds it creates on both sides of the building. The LS students look up to their “big” buddies and almost idolize them, while the MS kids get to know the feeling of taking care of or looking out for someone other than a younger sibling (if they even have one!). I often see buddies high-fiving in the halls or even hugging in between classes. How cool is that? And I can’t tell you how many times alums have come back to visit, and they may not recall certain things about the school, but they can almost always remember who their buddies were!

In a twist for this year, instead of the teachers planning the “Buddy Day” activities, we decided to have the two student councils be involved in the planning! And they came up with a great one to get us started! On Tuesday our  buddies “officially” met for the first time and planned to dress alike on Wednesday. Thus, Wednesday became “Twins-Day” (hear the rhyme?) as our buddies became lookalikes who enjoyed snack together, took some photo ops in our amps and then a recess together on a beautiful day! How “St. Francis” – an activity that is fun, positive and relationship-building. Look for some wonderful pictures of our “twins” in this week’s photo gallery! 

And speaking of positive, Monday we hosted our annual philanthropy fair! Many service organizations and nonprofit organizations came to school and set up shop in the Main Amp. All of our students ServiceLearning_4circulated among their displays to learn about the mission of each group and then decide as a class which one to support for their annual Service-Learning Project. This program seems to grow each year and the collective good we do for the local (and global!) community is quite impressive! (Not to mention the “good” it does for our kids!) Kudos to Librarian Lindsy Serrano for organizing a very successful Service-Learning Fair this year!