Senior Buddy program at St. Mary’s creates family bond, lasting memories

With only a few days left for the seniors at St. Mary’s Catholic School, the thought of leaving friendships and high school experiences is finally beginning to sink in. Surprisingly, one of those friendships includes a kindergartener, who they have become friends with this past year, through the Senior/Kindergartener Buddy program.

“This unique program that has been around St. Mary’s for more than 30 years, partners one senior with one kindergartener for the purpose of creating a sense of family between the older kids and the younger kids,” said Tracie Key, senior religion teacher and coordinator of the program. “By meeting and spending 20-30 minutes together once a month over the course of a year, the pair get to know each other and share a special bond much like that of an older brother/sister type of relationship. Because of Covid, we had a shortened buddy program this year but increased the frequency to once a week. The students enjoyed it just as much.”

“The St. Mary’s Kindergartener Buddy program is awesome for the seniors and the kindergarteners,” said senior Ben Smiley, whose buddy is Kiptin Williams. “The seniors get a chance to have fun and be a kid again, and the kindergarteners get someone to look up to and follow examples of as they grow up through the school year.”

“We love our senior buddy because they are fun and they play with us,” echoed almost every kindergartener about their senior buddy.

When the seniors meet with their buddy once a week, the time can be spent playing outside, where the seniors can play a sport with them or just run around and play.

“I have decided that I have the best kindergarten buddy ever!” said Andrew Godfrey of his buddy Max Deen. “Max has one of the best personalities that I have ever been around. He is very adventurous and never seems to run out of energy.”

“Finley (York) is so awesome!” said Jace Miley. She is really funny and full of energy. Her favorite game to play is tag. She loves it when I chase her around the playground.”

Laura Aviles, the only senior with two buddies said, “Keeping up with Annah Adkins and Eleanor Picou is sometimes a little crazy, but I truly enjoy our time together.”

“My buddy, Kailyn Adkins, used to be very afraid of heights,” said Luke Zeagler. “She would get so close to going on the big slide, but she would back out the last second. Eventually, she got over her fear of heights and the slide is now her favorite thing to do on the playground. I’m so proud of her for doing that on her own. I can’t wait to see who she becomes!

Sometimes, the kindergarteners just want to talk about things – most of which are very funny and entertaining to the seniors.

“My favorite memory with Emilee Harper would have to be the first time we got to play together,” said Jessi Lucky. “She was talking about Disney princesses, so I asked her ‘who’s your favorite Disney princess?’ She replied, ‘I don’t know, but I can do a backflip!”

“I like how Revill Dean is very intelligent and super interesting,” said Michael Guillet. “My favorite memory with her is when I asked her what she would want for kindergarten graduation, to which she replied, ‘Doritos!”

“My favorite thing about the buddy program is listening to all of the crazy stories Stafford Savant tells me because it something new every time I see him!” said Abigail Miller.

“Hanging out with Carlee Rhodes reminds me not to get too caught up in all of the craziness of my busy schedule,” said Maggie Gilmore. “I feel like Charlee is a younger version of myself.”

A few special events are held throughout the year, including a Halloween party, Christmas present exchange, flying kites in March, visiting the zoo, and an Easter Egg Hunt. On the last week for the seniors, the whole group of buddies learned a dance together and performed it in front of the student body.

“The last few weeks have been so rewarding and fun,” said Madeline Godfrey. “Getting to know McCall Methvin and all of the precious kindergarteners has definitely been one of the highlights of my senior year.”

Jeffrey Townson, buddy to Aubrey Williams, summed it up best when he said, “I love the buddy program because it brings nothing but joy to everyone who is involved.”

Pictured: Kindergarteners at St. Mary’s School join their senior buddy for an Easter Egg Hunt this past Easter. The seniors have spent the second half of the year spending time with and getting to know their kindergarten buddy. The family bond it creates often last a lifetime. Seniors pictured with their buddy are Laura Aviles: Annah Adkins and Eleanor Picou; Cameron Churchman: Eli Thibodaux; Abigail Miller: Stafford Savant; Karson Eversull: Ryan Lovemore; Dane Files: Ben Collins; Maggie Gilmore: Charlee Rhodes; Andrew Godfrey: Max Deen; Madeline Godfrey, McCall Methvin; Michael Guillet: Revill Dean; Noah Heard: Ansley Dranguet; Tim Lyddy: Archer Johnson; Jessi Lucky: Emilee Harper; Grace Lemoine: Xzaven Colwell; Jace Miley: Finley York; Triston Mitchell: Laurel Charmichael; Jensen Parker: Vivian Philen; Ben Smiley: Kiptin Williams; Jeffrey Townson: Aubrey Williams; Patrick Vienne: Hayes Harrington; Dagan Watson: Madelyn Wilkerson; Abby Williams: Thea Foshee; and Luke Zeagler: Kailyn Adkins.