Buddies bridge age gap at North Shore Country Day
North Shore Country Day School senior Hannah Klaeser reading with her kindergarten buddy Elizabeth Tilton-Kohl. | Provided
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:27AM
WINNETKA — Attending classes on the cozy North Shore Country Day School campus may be intimidating for some younger students, but the school’s buddy program hopes to bridge the gap between their oldest and youngest learners.
Connections between kindergartners and high school seniors has been going on at the school for decades, but recently have included all grade levels of North Shore Country Day. Seniors see their buddies one to two times each week and throughout the year “buddy days” are scheduled for the students to spend time together and enjoy activities.
“They sit together and share that experience,” said Lynsey Wollin-Casey, the assistant head of the upper school. “Our first (buddy day) is always the Monday before homecoming. The groups meet, chat and then work together to make decorations or decorate the school for homecoming.”
In addition to witnessing the program firsthand, Wollin-Casey has two of her own children involved with campus buddies. She said former pairs even reunite at homecoming and remain friends long after they’ve graduated from North Shore Country Day.
“My daughter is in fifth grade and has always been the young one in a pair,” Wollin-Casey said. “I look forward to seeing how she will be a role model for her first grade buddy next year. I think moving on to that next role is important.”
Senior Kendrick Hales has been involved in the program for years and has found it to be very rewarding in helping out the younger students.
“It’s hard to remember what it was like as a younger student but I do remember the envy and respect I had for my older buddy,” Hales said. “Being the older one now I have grown to have a really strong bond for my young buddy (Paul Atia). Even though it’s set up for the younger kids to learn from the older kids I’m constantly finding myself learning from my buddy. Being the older one has been an amazing and enlightening process for me.”
When Anna Schmidt was paired with her first buddy 14 years ago she was a little intimidated and shy. Years later Schmidt, now a senior, embraces the leadership role she takes on as an upperclassman.
“It definitely helped when you’re younger to have a role model and someone to look up to in the school community,” Schmidt said. “It’s nice to have the shift from taking someone’s lead to providing guidance for someone younger. Through this program you get to meet someone at school you wouldn’t normally meet.”
In addition to designing homecoming decorations the buddies participate in design thinking, community service and school department activities throughout the year.