Buddy Bench Brings Students Together At Whittier Elementary

. November 1, 2016.
Aiden Brickner, a 1st grader at Whittier Elementary, and  Addison Kokensparger, a former student at Whittier Elementary and now a 4th-grader at Wilson Vance, sit on the Buddy Bench.
Aiden Brickner, a 1st grader at Whittier Elementary, and Addison Kokensparger, a former student at Whittier Elementary and now a 4th-grader at Wilson Vance, sit on the Buddy Bench.

It doesn’t take long for a Whittier Elementary student to find a friend on the playground.

For a third year a Buddy Bench is being utilized at recess time to bring students together.

“No child should go to recess and not have someone to play with,” said Whittier Elementary School Counselor Andrea Kokensparger.

“The students here have used the bench appropriately and understand how to use it to either find someone to play with or to help a student find someone to play with.”

The simplicity of the concept is what makes the bench work well,  according to Kokensparger. All a child needs to do is sit on the bench, and wait for another child to spot them.

“Our young children are phenomenal,” Kokensparger said of the K-2 students who attend Whittier. “They don’t hesitate … all of them want to be that person to help. If a child goes to the bench it is usually not that long before they get swept up by another student.”

An idea from Europe

The Buddy Bench concept was initiated in 2013 by Christian Bucks, a second grade student in Pennsylvania. When his own family was considering a move to Germany, Bucks and his dad researched the idea of how to help a child when they feel lonely on the playground and stumbled on the idea of the Buddy Bench that was being utilized at a German school.  Bucks pitched the idea to his principal, and soon the Buddy Bench was a success at his own school, and nationwide.

Kokensparger said the bench fits in nicely with Whittier School’s mission to teach students life skills such as empathy and friendship. “Our children not only need to learn to be successful academically, but to become well-rounded, be good at conversations and assertiveness. These are the skills that will be in demand in their jobs later in life.”

For more information on the Buddy Bench story,
you can check out
the website, buddybench.org
or Christian’s Buddy Bench on Facebook.