New Life Academy’s Buddy Program Resumes
By Journalism students Brendan and Tyler
The buddy program, previously shut down by Covid-19, opens back up this year once again to provide opportunities for fellowship to Early Ed and Lower School students and their older buddies.
According to the Lower School Principal, Ms. Washburn, “The buddy program has been operating for over 25 years.”
The great benefit of being a school serving multiple age groups is the buddy program. Students pair up across grades to mentor and get to know each other. It’s a fun way for students of different ages to build community. The purpose of this program is to have “older kids work with the younger generation to show love and fellowship to them,” Washburn says.
The program was a success from the start and continued every year up until 2019 when the pandemic hit and was forced to shut down. Along with it, many possible connections between the grades were lost as the school was forced to go online for a while. When students were allowed to come back, they still had to socially distance themselves and wear masks.
“Last year they couldn’t get together as often,” says Ms. Dahlen, 4th-grade teacher and buddy program facilitator. “They had to get creative in the ways they met and hung out. The kids had balls and would stand 6 feet apart and every time they passed the ball they would ask a question to their partner.” This was one of the many new Covid friendly activities they had to incorporate into the system.
The buddy program produces tighter connections between the grades and creates a closer school overall. Even the students’ parents are big supporters of the program.
Dr. Schrader, one of NLA’s Bible teachers, is currently in the process of recruiting high school students to be buddies; while in Lower School, Ms. Washburn is finalizing the last steps to set up the program for her classes.
After taking a year-long break due to Covid-19, the wait is finally over and the students of New Life Academy are now looking forward to attending and participating in the beloved buddy program.
The program benefits younger students, but also the older students as well. Ms. Washburn says, “It’s good for older kids to know how much they’re looked up to.”