By Mac Fogler
On Oct. 10, Oak Hall’s senior class will meet with kindergarteners for the first time this year, as part of the Senior Buddy program. This program came to the school when Head of School Dr. James Hutchins brought the concept from his previous school. “He thought it was a very positive experience for the seniors and the kindergarten kids,” said kindergarten teacher Judi Hubert. Middle and Upper School Counselor, Laurie Spelder, thinks the key to its success is the excitement that both age groups experience when they get to see each other. “I think the seniors really like to see how cute and how excited the little ones are,” she said. “They are so excited when the big kids come. You’d have to have a heart of stone to not think that’s awesome,” Spelder continued.
The buddies have been paired up by Spelder and the kindergarten teachers, who met to discuss the best matches. A few seniors have been at Oak Hall since kindergarten, which helps in the process since Hubert has seen them grow up. Some students need to be with a certain type of personality in order to create the best experience for everybody. The most expressive seniors are paired with shyer kids, in the hope the kindergartner will come out of their shell. Because there are more seniors than kindergarteners this year, some kids will have two senior buddies.
Hubert thinks these relationships help the younger kids learn to express themselves. “I think it helps them learn to talk to older children, because sometimes they can be shy or a little afraid so it helps them gain a little self-confidence, and also it helps to expand the campus since we don’t get over there very much. It really helps establish our one school [concept],” Hubert explained. Spelder’s view is that accountability is the best thing to come from it, as she feels the seniors might benefit from the program more than the little ones. “I say to them all the time, you can’t let these little ones down, they will be sad, they will cry if you don’t show up. Most of the seniors take that really seriously and it’s really sweet,” she said. “When the seniors see how excited the little kids are when they get there, there’s almost no way they’d be willing to let them down,” Spelder mentioned.
The buddies will participate in many activities together this year, such as lunches and the Halloween parade, amongst others. The culmination occurs when the graduating seniors wear caps and gowns, and are accompanied by their buddy, to participate in one final parade before graduation.