by Middle School teacher Mary Spaulding
It was 2:30 pm and the cafeteria buzzed with excitement and positive energy as small groups of three or four students huddled around tables. At each table sat a group of smiling eighth, fourth and second-grade students playing icebreakers and getting to know each other. Teachers wandered around and checked in with the small groups, but for the most part, students were so engaged with getting to know each other that they didn’t notice the adults in the room.
This November launched the first year of the Pike All-School Buddy initiative. Each buddy group consists of one Lower School class, one Middle School class, and one Upper School class. Within each class, students are broken into smaller groups to give students an opportunity to bond with two or three different students. Throughout the year these groups will gather to participate in a variety of activities together as a way to connect with and build camaraderie between students in our three divisions. Younger students love the opportunity to meet and get to know older students and Upper School students have a chance to practice their leadership skills by mentoring their younger buddies. As teachers, it’s a pleasure to observe our students interact with each other. For those of us who teach younger students, we have the opportunity to watch our former students who are now upper schoolers take on leadership roles as they mentor the younger students.
Throughout the year, buddy group meetings will occur five times on set dates. Teachers met in November to plan the five meetings during a faculty meeting. It was exciting to hear about the different activities teachers planned. Activities include working together on service projects here at Pike such as garden planting and making Valentine’s cards for members of the military. Groups will also participate in art projects, scavenger hunts, sledding, snowshoeing, and STEM building projects.
A few days after our first buddy meeting, a stack of cards appeared in my mailbox from our eighth-grade buddies. My students were beyond excited to receive notes and cards and were also enthusiastic about responding with their own cards. It was wonderful to see how much a note from an older student meant to my fourth graders.
They carefully crafted thoughtful and creative cards to respond to their eighth-grade buddies and to their second-grade buddies. My students were excited to see their buddies again, and we all hope that students can feel comfortable saying hello when they pass their buddies in the hallways or at recess. These cross-divisional relationships between students and teachers are just one of the many special ways that Pike fosters community.
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.