After months of anticipation, a Buddy Bench, a specially designed seat for children who need or want someone to play with them, has arrived at the St. Clair Edgar Murray Elementary just in time for the 2020-21 school year.
The bench is a unique way to address and prevent bullying, said Ashley Barnette, teacher at the school. She said when a peer is seated on the bench, it is a signal for students to invite them to play.
Barnette had been looking for grant money to fund a buddy bench when she started working at Edgar Murray two years ago after she and her family relocated to Missouri. While she was unable to find a grant, Scherrer Construction and its Scherrer Cares program stepped up to build the bench in December.
Scherrer Cares is a nonprofit created by Wisconsin-based Scherrer Construction. The nonprofit’s mission is “to build kindness in communities” through an anti-bullying initiative by providing Wisconsin schools with customized buddy benches “to help spread kindness and build friendships.”
The company does not typically donate out of state, but was willing to make an exception for Edgar Murray, provided the school pay the shipping costs.
“We plan to use the buddy bench to encourage our students to foster healthy friendships,” Barnette said. “The buddy bench will be a symbol for students, encouraging them to be a buddy not a bully.”
The school also hopes to use the bench as a remembrance for Terrance Hicks, a student who passed away earlier this school year, Barnette said.
The bench is located on the playground at Edgar Murray and is designed with St. Clair’s name, logo and school colors.