Big Buddies Help Show Lancaster Elementary Students The Ropes

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

Big Buddies Help Show Lancaster Elementary Students The Ropes

October 4, 2013 Updated Oct 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (21Alive) -- Sometimes, when you embark on a new adventure, it's nice to have someone who can show you the ropes.

Kindergarten and first-grade students at Lancaster Elementary know they can count on a friendly smile or a few encouraging words from their "big buddies," fourth- and fifth-grade mentors who serve as role models throughout the school year.

Principal Russ Degitz says the school's Big Buddy program has been in place for several years, and the teachers who coordinate the effort do a great job.

"It's a little more intensive at the beginning of the year," Degitz says. "Early on, big buddies help their little buddies learn some of the ropes, like how to go through the lunch line and how to get to their bus. As the year progresses, they work together on some collaborative projects. This is really geared toward having fun and establishing relationships."

Along the way, little buddies become more comfortable in their surroundings and develop some important friendships. "They love it," Degitz says. "Their big buddies are kind of their heroes."

The program also gives big buddies a chance to develop some important life skills. "It's kind of a rite of passage," Degitz says. "The older kids see this as an opportunity to shine."

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