Alumni dedicate new buddy bench
Children at The Island School welcomed something new to their playground. Alumni from the Class of 2016 returned to the school last week to unveil a “buddy bench” for all the students.
Upon graduation in June of 2016, the families of the Class of 2016 donated funds for a structure to honor two co-founders of the school, Nancy and Dave Leedy. They eventually chose a buddy bench as their gift.
Austin Ohm, the school’s former art teacher, got to work. His colorful and whimsical design included many items dear to Nancy and Dave and to The Island School learning community.
Beth Wheeler, parent of an alumna, explained the class’ vision.
“Dave and Nancy were all about sparking and encouraging curiosity, joy, wonder and play through music you can’t help singing along to, books you can’t stop reading, science experiments you just had to stop and ask about, and games, in the widest possible definition of that word, from chess to Wild West,” Wheeler said. “We hoped to gift to the students of The Island School something that would embody all those Leedy qualities while celebrating a few of their favorite things.”
The bench seat contains a chess board in memory of Dave Leedy and his passion for the game.
“Chess requires strategy and critical thinking,” Ohm noted.
The back panels depict book titles (storytelling and the joy of reading), ladybugs (living things), a flower (nurturing the mind, body and spirit), a guitar (singing together) and gears and wrenches (engineering, tinkering and design).
The purpose of the buddy bench is to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. If children are looking for a friend at recess, they simply sit on the buddy bench, and others will come invite them to play.
“The shape of the bench is rounded, giving you a hug,” Ohm explained.