Power of a Friend

Students began putting the finishing touches on the Hawthorn Elementary North School buddy bench that student leaders expect will become a friendship bench to students who are lonely or may not have someone to play with during recess.

The bench is not intended to be a target, but rather a destination that student council members will watch in case students hover near it because they don’t have a friend to play with during recess, said Rachel Boehm, one of the student council sponsors.

“The Power of a Friend bench is more symbolic. It will help remind students that friends are important,” Mrs. Boehm said.

The Illinois Education Association awarded a $330 grant to the school through the district’s Hawthorn Education Association.

Hawthorn Elementary North School teachers Megan Wolf in conjunction with Betsy Gehlbach were awarded the grant as part of the IEA’s Schools and Community Outreach by Educators Program, which is a grant program designed to give educators in the first 10 years of their career a chance to apply for money for a service project.

The service program Ms. Wolf, of the Vernon Hills school, chose to do was the buddy bench. The buddy bench, or Power of a Friend bench, which is what the school is calling the bench, is a colorful bench that will be located on the playground, and used as a signal to let students know that someone is in need of friend. Students who are new, feeling lonely or have no one to play with may sit on the Power of a Friend bench. Other students know that children sitting on the bench need a friend, so they feel comfortable asking the student to come play with them. Once a student has had personal experience using the bench, he or she is more likely to reach out to other students and foster new friendships. The school plans to have an assembly to kick off the Power of a Friend bench and to explain to students the purpose of the bench.