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Activities encourage students to form new friendships

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PABLO – There’s a whole lot of buddying up going on at Pablo Elementary.

The school this year has implemented a program to encourage establishing new friendships to make students feel connected and happy at school.

The brainchild of Kathy Smith, the school’s reading specialist, and second-grade teacher Lorey Jackson, the school has had two “buddying up” events already this year with plans to have four more.

“Buddy Up and run” and “snack and chat” events have already been held. The first one involved students buddying up with another student in their own grade level for a 1-mile fun run and walk. The second event paired kindergarteners and second-graders with third-graders.

Seventy-five parents came to the fun run/walk and the kids loved it, Smith said.

Students ate popcorn and asked and answered three to four questions during the snack and chat event, she said.

Other events planned include an art project in January, a recess activity, a reading activity with Ronan High School honor students and a “graduation matters” event with graduating Ronan High seniors.

The activities are designed to bring students together across grade levels.

In addition, two “buddy benches” were installed outside the school with help from donations from Mountain West Co-op in Ronan and family of the late Elaine Norman in her memory.

Smith, learned about the buddy benches from a school in Missoula. Students who feel like they don’t have a friend can sit on the bench, and other students are encouraged to come “friend” them.

The buddying up projects grew out of a “student voice” survey taken last year, Smith said. Students were asked if they like coming to school, have friends at school or have felt bullied. At least 30 percent answered affirmatively that at least one of these issues, or questions, is a problem. 

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