This article was originally published in the summer 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Now in its second year, the Harker Eagle Buddies program continues to be a success, fostering friendships between upper and lower school students that Eagle Buddies coordinators hope will last beyond the Class of 2013’s graduation. Last year’s Eagle Buddies, now in grades 4 and 11, bonded during a number of fun activities during the fall and spring semesters.
“The kids had a really good time with it,” said upper school history teacher and Eagle Buddies coordinator Carol Zink. “Both the big kids and the little kids look forward to these things.”
Simar Mangat, grade 11, said his experience with Eagle Buddies so far has been “fantastic. Our lower school friends are always energetic and excited to play. Visiting allows us to reminisce about the good old days in lower school and escape the often stressful life.”
In November, grade 4 kids met up with their friends in the Class of 2013 at the lower school to put together boxes of utensils and candy that were donated to children in need at Scott Lane Elementary.
When the juniors visited again in mid-March, they dropped in on an assembly and played a game with their buddies in which groups of eight had to pose as various shapes or structures, such as a circle or a bridge. Afterward, they chatted over lunch.
In April the grade 4 buddies headed to the upper school to participate in a day of fun with a group of professional clowns hired by Jeff Draper, upper school performing arts teacher. In addition to watching the clowns perform entertaining and hilarious antics such as walking on stilts, spinning plates and balancing precariously on stacks of chairs, the students donned clown makeup, and learned scarf juggling and how to balance feathers on their fingertips and noses.
“It was fun because even though we were on the upper school campus, we all became 10-year-olds for a couple of hours,” said Tiphaine Delepine, grade 11. “It was fun to go to my college counseling meeting with a butterfly painted on my face and to see classmates walking all over campus with other crazy face-paint designs.”
The success of last year’s inaugural Eagle Buddies activities meant that students new to the program enjoyed the same fun. There was an initial meet-up and field day at the lower school in October, a special visit by grade 10 buddies to the Pajama Day assembly at the lower school, with students from both grades wearing pajamas for the occasion and a special visit to the upper school by the grade 3 buddies, who participated in the spring spirit rally’s scream-off, where they were recorded screaming at 101.3 decibels.
Sofia Fernandez, grade 3 student and the daughter of upper school math teacher Jeanette Fernandez, said the rally was her favorite Eagle Buddies event this year. “I enjoyed yelling and cheering for the 10th graders and running on the field chasing the advisors – my mom – during the skit.”
Bryan Zhang, also grade 3, agreed, “because you have the chance to watch the performance with your buddies and play with them at the upper school campus.”
For next year, the Eagle Buddies coordinators plan an added element, offering coaching to any grade 10 students who may not have a lot of experience with young children, hopefully thus increasing their enjoyment of the program even more. “So many of our students are the only child in their families or are the younger child themselves and don’t have a lot of experience with 8-yearolds,” Zink said. A special graduation ceremony for next year’s seniors and fifth graders (who will respectively be spending their final years at the upper and lower schools) is also planned.
“Eagle Buddies is a way to make Harker smaller and closer as a group while simultaneously giving the young students people to look up to,” said Delepine. “I wish there had been a program like Eagle Buddies when I was at the lower school!”