Highlander “Buddy Program” brings students together virtually

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(Photo courtesy of the Herricks Public Schools)

As an outgrowth of its Herricks Strong initiative, Herricks High School has launched a Highlander “Buddy Program.”

Elementary and middle school students are matched with high school volunteers based on interests, and the pairs get together virtually via platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Facetime. There are currently 15 partnerships, with hopes that more participants will sign up.

The opportunity was introduced and organized by junior Jaqueline Manetta as a way to bring a sense of normalcy and social interaction into the community during the pandemic.

She provided the elementary and middle school children with pictures of their high school buddies and shared virtual board game ice breaker activities for the older students to lead. This helped the buddies discover things that they have in common and feel comfortable with each other.

The meetings, which are typically weekly and last about 45 minutes to an hour, consist of conversations, games, and more. The students discuss topics such as music, art, and television shows, and some pairs even exercise and read together.

The high school students are able to gain experience as mentors, while their younger peers are benefitting from friendships with positive role models.

“It is so overwhelming and exciting to see the number of students that want to get involved,” Manetta said. “My hope is that this program continues long after the pandemic. I feel so lucky to be a part of a community that comes together during difficult times.”

Those interested in signing up can complete a Google Form at https://forms.gle/DLeG4ypZSbnfjRYz8 or email highlanderbuddyprogram@gmail.com.

Submitted by the Herricks Public Schools

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