When Anita Pieper, a beloved Certified Education Assistant (CEA) suddenly passed away in October 2018, her family wanted to honour her memory in a special way. “Anita left an incredible legacy which includes her warm smile, her kind heart, her inclusive nature, and the importance she placed on friendship,” comments Jennifer Findlay, District Principal for School District No. 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap. “I had the pleasure of working with Anita at Len Wood Elementary many years ago, and she quickly became a friend who was like family.”
The Pieper family decided to honour Anita’s legacy with the Buddy Bench Project. Currently, there are five Buddy Benches in place on SD83 school playgrounds. Including a Buddy Bench on the playground can encourage students to look out for one another so no one feels left out. Some of the guidelines include:
- If you are looking for someone to play with or a friend, please sit on the Buddy Bench
- If you see someone sitting on the bench, talk to them and invite them to play
- If you are sitting on the bench and someone invites you to play, say “yes”
The most recent Buddy Bench installation took place at Bastion Elementary School. This bench was a true community project in memory of Paul Whyte (February 29, 1984 to December 24, 2020). Paul was born in Victoria, BC and moved to Salmon Arm in 1993. He attended Bastion Elementary from 1993 (Grade 3) until 1997 (Grade 7) and he graduated from Salmon Arm Senior Secondary in 2002. Paul was an accomplished helicopter pilot, a talented photographer, an avid traveler, and a loving son, brother, and friend. He will be missed by many and remembered for his kindness, compassion, honesty, and integrity. Paul’s family is honoured to have the Buddy Bench placed at Bastion School in his memory.
A huge thanks goes out to everyone who was involved with this project including the Pieper, Kusisto, Wagner, Stanley, and Findlay families. Thank you also to Leko Precast for providing the concrete foundation.