The OLW Buddy Program is a favorite of students and teachers alike. It pairs a younger student in preschool to third grade with an older ‘buddy’ in grades four through eight. Being a buddy helps to build community, teaches responsibility, models good behavior and gives the younger student a role model. Monthly buddy activities offer a chance for students to become friends with someone outside their grade; the activities are usually focused on faith and service. Most of the activities are related to the Virtue of the month.

In June, kindergarten students and their fifth grade buddies walked into downtown Arlington Heights for a tasty treat at Berry Yo. They earned this treat because of their hard work during thier persuasive writing unit. Kindergarten students, with the help of the fifth grade buddies, wrote reasons for “Why YOU should go to Berry-Yo?” The students were very happy to give their opinions and make their case. The answers included: the yogurt is tasty; there are many toppings; it’s good on a hot day; they have great birthday parties at Berry Yo. Kindergarten teachers sent the essays to Sheila at Berry Yo who displayed them in her shop. When everyone arrived at Berry Yo, students were given a choice of chocolate or vanilla and they were allowed to get sprinkles as well.

In April, first and sixth graders made Blessings Bags for the clients of JOURNEYS the Road Home, a non-profit agency that provides shelter, social services and housing to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in 37 towns in north/northwest suburban Cook County. The Blessings Bags contained travel size toiletries that were collected from all students before spring break, plus a note of encouragement. Someone from Journeys came to talk to the students about how much the toiletries help their homeless clients. The students asked great questions about the program and they have an understanding about how small acts of kindness add up to make a big impact.

The February all-school service project focused on the Virtue of Love and on the book, The Mitten Tree. Students collected mittens to share with women and children from WINGS, with our sharing parish, St. Mark’s, and with the homeless that we serve through PADS. The Buddy pairs first watched a movie based in the book; then they discussed ways they can show love and they colored a set of mittens together. The mitten pairs – representing the buddy pairs – were hung in the hallways.

Fourth graders celebrated Dr Seuss’ birthday in February with their preschool buddies.

In December, the buddy pairs worked on a prayer chain. Each student wrote a prayer that reflected how they felt God is calling them. The long prayer chain was used during one of the advent services.

In November, the Buddy pairs worked together and discussed Gratitude, the November virtue.

In October, the Buddy pairs from kindergarten to eighth grade walked as a large group into downtown Arlington Heights to see the movie, SMALL FOOT. The idea for this came from OLW teacher, Mrs. Carrie Ryan, “I saw a review of the movie and I knew that the message of courage and staying true to yourself matched up with what we are studying this month in Virtues, the virtue of Courage.” As the Virtues team planned the monthly Buddy activity, they decided that a movie outing would help the students get to know each other and give them easy conversation points to talk with their buddy about Courage. The General Manager at CMX Cinemas, Mr. Vinnie Scardima, grew up as an OLW parishioner and was very happy to open the theater just for OLW students. Arlington Heights Mayor, Mr. Tom Hayes, was able to speak to the students before the movie started. “It is important to always stand up for what it is right,” the Mayor reminded the students.

OLW students definitely thought a movie outing was a great buddy activity. The buddy pairs sat next to each other in the movie theatre and as they walked back, they could all be heard talking about the movie on the walk back to school. “The movie showed our buddy how you don’t have to be afraid to be yourself,” said one seventh grader. “It was really cool to hang out with my buddy,” remarked a second grader.

In September, to learn about Unity, the Buddy pairs worked on a puzzle together in a way that they learned about each other. The puzzle pieces were put together on the wall to show that we are all a part of God’s plan.

We are very proud of the OLW Buddy Program which started in 2010.