Vernon Hills' school Buddy Bench to help lonely students make friends

  • Hawthorn Elementary School North fifth-grader Megan Otto joins other student council members painting boards for the new Buddy Bench on Wednesday in Vernon Hills. The bench is intended to help lonely students to find friends.

      Hawthorn Elementary School North fifth-grader Megan Otto joins other student council members painting boards for the new Buddy Bench on Wednesday in Vernon Hills. The bench is intended to help lonely students to find friends. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Hawthorn Elementary School North student council members Carly Sides, left, and Molly Neary paint boards for the new Buddy Bench on Wednesday in Vernon Hills. The project is part of a $300 grant awarded to teacher Megan Wolf.

      Hawthorn Elementary School North student council members Carly Sides, left, and Molly Neary paint boards for the new Buddy Bench on Wednesday in Vernon Hills. The project is part of a $300 grant awarded to teacher Megan Wolf. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
By Gilbert R. Boucher II
gboucher@dailyherald.com
Updated 2/17/2016 4:24 PM

Student council members painted boards blue Wednesday as they worked to create the new "Buddy Bench" at Hawthorn Elementary School North in Vernon Hills.

The project is part of a $330 grant awarded to Hawthorn Elementary North School teacher Megan Wolf by the Illinois Education Association.

 

"I really wanted to create the sense of friendship and welcoming that I felt as a new teacher here," Wolf said. "The student council has really helped us out and brought the students in to the whole creating and getting together of the bench. We are so excited for it to be finished and be on the playground and be put into action."

The idea is for a student to sit on the "Buddy Bench" and let other students know they are in need of a friend.

The colorful bench, which will be installed on the school's playground this spring, is designed to help students who are new, feeling lonely or have no one to play with, and to make other students feel comfortable about asking them to come play.

"It's really fun because we get to do all this painting. I'm happy that kids that don't have friends will get to be with other people and that we get to participate in helping other people be happy," fifth-grader Anastasia Kravchenko said as she brushed blue paint onto boards.

The grant program by IEA's Schools and Community Outreach by Educators Program is designed for educators, early in their careers, to be able to apply for money for a service project.

More than 50 grants have been awarded to educators from across the state with emphasis on projects that were creative and different and benefitted students, their families and the community.

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