When third grader Lucas Guerrazzi went to recess, he always had someone to play with.
But he knew that wasn’t the case for all of his classmates when he attended Schavey Road Elementary School in DeWitt.
“Some people might feel lonely when their friend is away and they just want somebody to play with them,” said Lucas.
Last year, Lucas’s mom Kimberly read him an article about a “Buddy Bench,” which schools across the country have used to encourage kids to play together at recess.
Lucas was immediately interested, she said.
“He said he would talk to [his teacher] Mrs. Hanson about it, but I wasn’t sure whether or not he really would,” said Kimberly. “And he went in and the next thing I know a note was coming home saying the kids were to do some odd jobs to earn money for a service learning project called the Buddy Bench.”
During a “public discourse” project, student’s in Judy Hanson’s class were asked to name something they want to see improved.
“Lucas came up with: we need something on the playground that will help kids that are lonely or help kids that are new to school,” said Hanson, who taught Lucas in first and second grades.
At first, students were asked to do chores around their houses to raise money for the project. But in the end, parents volunteered their time and the materials to put it together.
“Lucas is a very compassionate person and I just think it’s nice to pay things forward,” said Hanson. “You have to be there for kids, you have to make somebody else’s day and it just ties right in with all of our social studies friendship units.”
If a student doesn’t have anyone to play with on the playground, they’re supposed to sit on the bench, where other children can ask them to play.
Lucas made a video with some classmates to teach them about the bench. That video will be shown to all students at Schavey Wednesday morning.
Scott Elementary School has also added a bench, which will serve the third and fourth graders there. That bench is called “Panther Pals.”