Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz and Parkview Elementary student Hazel Spanke become buddies on the school’s new Buddy Bench. (Contributed)

Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz and Parkview Elementary student Hazel Spanke become buddies on the school’s new Buddy Bench. (Contributed)

Sicamous elementary school students have a new place to find a buddy

Buddy Bench installed with $2,000 donation from District of Sicamous

There’s a new place where Parkview Elementary School students can find a buddy.

On Monday, June 6, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the addition of a new Buddy Bench at the Sicamous school. Doing the cutting was leadership student Hazel Spanke, 11, who spearheaded the effort to get the bench installed. Also in attendance were representatives from the school district, the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz.

The school district’s operations department donated labour to install the bench, while the District of Sicamous covered the $2,000 cost of the bench itself.

“I’m trying to have a bake sale and make $72 towards the $2,000, and the Mayor of Sicamous approached me and said why don’t we just cover the Buddy Bench,” said grateful PAC president Siobhan Rich.

Several Buddy Benches have been installed at schools throughout School District 83.

Read more: Sicamous council approves $2,000 donation for Buddy Bench at Parkview Elementary

Read more:‘Buddy Bench’ installed at Salmon Arm school in memory of former student

Rich explained it was started as a way to honour Anita Pieper, a long-time CEA (Certified Education Assistant) with the school district who died of cancer in 2018. The idea for the Buddy Bench came from a trip Pieper took with her husband, Chris, to Grande Prairie to visit their son. The Pieper’s grandson sat alone on the bench during a school day and a student came and talked to him. Another student was sitting on the bench later, and the Pieper’s grandson went and chatted with him and became a friend.

A Buddy Bench is a place where students can sit if they’re looking for someone to play with. If a student is sitting on a Buddy Bench, other students are encouraged to talk to them and invite them to play.

Last November, Sicamous council voted to donate $2,000 towards the bench, recognizing it as giving kids a safe place to be and help them be included.

With files from the Vernon Morning Star.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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