By Francesca Di Cristofano, News Editor
COLONIAL PLAYGROUND — This year’s buddies program was a learning experience for everyone, Kindergartners and fifth graders alike.
The buddies program has been going on for more than 15 years, which seems like forever to some. This year, the students learned several things.
Ryan Gregware (5G) said the most challenging thing was collaborating with the Kindergartners. “We both learned something new,” he said. “We had a lot of responsibilities because for thirty minutes we were in charge of them.”
Even with this difficulty, the buddies enjoyed themselves, and the Kindergartners overcame their fears of the big school experience ahead of them.
“My favorite part is hangin’ with my brother,” said Gabriel Da Cruz (KH). “My brother helped me on the playground. He helped me make new friends. I’ll miss him next year.”
Being paired with siblings was a favorite part for some Kindergartners. This made them more confident. It also made them feel more outgoing.
“My favorite part was Grant,” said Lauren Ulto (KH) of her fifth-grade brother. “He was silly. I was scared at first. He helped me get unscared.”
Some of the Kindergartners were frightened of the big fifth graders at first, but now it seems they don’t want to leave the fifth grade students alone. The majority of the fifth graders showed affection for the Kinders too.
“They still want to play with you all the time,” said Emma Lauria (5G). “They’re Kindergartners and are cute. I think we helped them to learn the rules of the playground and stuff like that.”
One thought that occurred to some of the students is that they will be separated from their buddies next year. Fifth graders were the first friends for some Kindergartners. Then again, many people might think that the separation will be positive.
“This is my sixth year at Colonial,” said Mr. Alexander Ventura, a fifth grade teacher. “I think the program is fantastic for both Kindergartners and fifth graders in creating great memories for both and in preparing Kindergartners for life at Colonial.”
Mr. Ventura thinks that there shouldn’t be a problem for the Kindergartners going off by themselves next year.
There is another side of this provided by Mrs. Elisa Ulto, mother of Grant and Lauren, that says the siblings might experience some difficulties.
“I think that (Lauren) will miss Grant and the fifth grade faces,” said Mrs. Ulto. “I think it was comforting for her as a student to know that her older brother was here. During recess, she might be lonely next year.”
Because the buddies program was working so well, Colonial changed the lunch schedule so it was more compatible for students in both grades.
“I’ve been at Colonial for fourteen years,” said Mrs. Tonya Wilson, the principal. “I think it’s good the way the children are cooperating. I think they will be fine next year because (the older kids) come to visit every year. The friendships are the best part. They last for years to come.”
Some fifth graders compare their old fifth grade buddies to their Kindergarten buddies now.
“I remember when I was in Kindergarten,” said Peyton Rees (5G). “My buddy wasn’t the kind that left you; she was with you all the time. This year, with my buddy, I didn’t think we had much in common. I do admit that even after it ended, we didn’t have much time to ourselves.”
Mrs. Mary Goldszer, a new fifth grade teacher, has a good opinion of the program. In her previous school, they didn’t have buddies.
“I think our buddies are a great idea,” she said. “It makes your first year of school so much easier, having a fifth grader show you the ropes. Fifth graders can be such great role models for students. For fifth grade, it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate responsible behavior. Years down the road, fifth graders and Kindergarten buddies will remember each other fondly.”
(This story was originally published in the printed year-in-review edition of the Colonial Times.)