New ways to make friends at Colonial (from our print edition)

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Ella Deyoung

The K-5 buddy program has been around a long time. From left, then Kindergartners Kira Findikyan, Liam Ginsburg and Waverly Nanda on the playground where they learned from their buddies (four years ago).

The Kindergarten-fifth grade buddy system has been a part of Colonial life for more than twenty years. But this year, a new peer buddy program was introduced to the school, as was Friendly First Fridays. Both were designed to give all the grades the chance to meet and make new friends.

The old buddy system only involved pairing up fifth graders and Kindergartners. But the new program includes all grades while the Kindergarten-fifth grade buddy system is still in operation. Since the program has been changed, fifth-grade students now have two different buddies in two different grades. Some things have not changed about the program, like how buddies show each other around, play games and just have so much fun together.

Adam Berry (5MO), who has a buddy in second grade and Kindergarten, said he wishes he only had one buddy. “I like having a buddy,” he said. “It’s great, but I wish that we had lessons with our buddies.”

Some other people disagreed with that idea, including Reen Dolan (1C). She said, “I like having my Kindergarten buddy. We made paper Christmas trees.”

Mrs. Tonya Wilson, the principal, did point out in an earlier edition of the Colonial Times that students used to have lessons with their buddies before the new peer buddy program was put into place at the school.

As with Reen, Chloe Cunningham (1G) said in an interview that she loves seeing her buddy Ansley (KS). Some of the things they have done together included reading stories, visiting and playing at recess.

The K-fifth buddy system was created to make the Kindergartners feel welcome and so they would always have someone to look up to, according to a Colonial Times story from December 2012. That year, for the first week of school, the fifth graders ate lunch with their buddies and then went outside to play. Most of the boys taught their buddies how to play kickball. Most girls played anything that had to do with babies or house.

In an interview in 2013, Kindergarten teacher Kathleen McCarthy said, “The buddy program is a fantastic idea because the fifth graders are great role models, and they also have a nice bond with the Kindergartners”

With the new peer buddies, the students from the different grades get together and undertake activities, such as leprechaun puppets and paper Christmas trees.

Friendly First Friday is an effort to get students to meet each other by wearing name tags and taking other steps. The students wear name tags so they can meet new people when moving around in the hallways.

“Even though the students are in the same building, many do not even know each other,” said Mrs. Wilson.

Mrs. Wilson got the Friendly First Friday idea from second-grade teacher Kathleen Dragan. Mrs. Dragan’s son did a version of  Friendly First Friday in his school. Mrs. Wilson thought the idea was so amazing she brought it into Colonial.

Friendly First Friday started in March of this year and was a big hit. The first activity that happened on Friendly First Friday was when students were given name tags at the beginning of the day and were instructed to say hi to students they didn’t know as they walked through the hallways.

The second Friendly First Friday was held in April. Students were put into groups and were given a bag of questions to answer in their group. As of press time, there had been no Friendly First Friday in May, but hopefully, one will be held in June before school ends. Mrs. Wilson has already come up with ideas for future Friendly First Fridays, such as having lunch with your buddy to get to know her or him better.

Lucy Dolan (5MO) has two buddies, one in second grade and one in kindergarten. She said, “Having my peer buddy is one of my favorite parts of fifth grade. I feel like they both look up to me. I like having a younger kid to hang out with.” Her favorite things that she has done with her buddies included going to her second-grade buddy’s writing celebration and having a winter party with her Kindergarten buddy.

Madeline Simon also has a buddy in Kindergarten and one in second grade. She likes having a buddy and said her favorite part of the peer buddy program was eating ice cream. “You can get away from normal school work to go with someone who has a very funny imagination,” she said.

The new peer buddy program and Friendly First Fridays have been a hit with all the grades this year. They are both great steps in making Colonial an even more welcoming place.

This story originally ran in the June 2017 print edition of the Colonial Times.