After weeks of exchanging cards and learning more about each other, third graders finally met their big buddies at the official Eagle Buddies kickoff Oct. 6.
Balloons lined the walkways and, as sophomores filed through the gym to the field, third graders cheered and clapped, warmly welcoming the older students with grins and hugs. The buddies spent the morning playing games organized by the BEST staff – wringing out sponges, racing with their legs tied together and running around campus in a scavenger hunt.
“It was really cute to see a tall sophomore with a small third grader and their legs tied together, hobbling down the field,” said Carol Zink, upper school history teacher and one of the Eagle Buddies program coordinators. She described one sophomore picking up his Little Buddy to make the turnaround in the three-legged race and stressed how well everyone communicated with each other during the games.
“The Eagle Buddy meeting was fantastic!” said Jeffrey Draper, sophomore class dean. “It was so great to see the young third graders interacting with their old, tenth grade buddies, playing games together, talking about their interests, and seeing the sophomores take such great care in the way they worked with their Little Buddies.”
Sarah Leonard, K-3 division head, was impressed by how quickly the new relationships unfolded. “For most, it was instantaneous,” she said. “The buddies clicked and new friendships were born.”
Inspired by Butch Keller, upper school head, the Eagle Buddies program aims to increase cross-campus connections and integrate the Harker community in a new tradition. Tenth graders and third graders were paired up for a three-year-long friendship program that will last until their respective graduations in 2014.
“We are a K-12 school and watching the interaction that day at Bucknall, all those things came true,” Keller recapped.
The buddies’ next opportunity to hang out will be during the Nov. 22 homecoming football game. Pizza will be served at the tailgate and buddies can watch the contest together. The game will also be a chance for buddy parents to meet each other. In January, buddies will participate in the lower school’s Pajama Day fundraiser and, come spring, Little Buddies will be taking a trip to the upper school campus for the annual spring spirit rally. In between, sophomores will be inviting their Little Buddies to performances and sports games and continuing to write letters.
“It is my hope that this is the beginning of a long, time-honored tradition,” Leonard said. “The benefits to young and old alike in regards to encouraging communication, promoting responsibility and building and managing relationships cannot be underestimated.”