Buddy Bench donated

Anita’s family, grandchild and a few other students test the bench at Highland Park Elementary during a ceremony on June 11. (Vernon Morning Star – Roger Knox photo)

The memory of someone who was known for her kindness is being honoured by a Buddy Bench program in SD83.

Anita Pieper, a long-time CEA with the school district, passed away in the fall of 2018. To honour her memory, Anita’s family got the idea of starting a Buddy Bench program, which they saw at a school their grandson attended in Grande Prairie. So far there are benches at Len Wood Middle, Armstrong Elementary and Highland Park Elementary.

A ceremony was held at Highland Park Elementary on June 12th as the bench was installed.

The school-wide assembly at Highland Park was led by SD83 staff Jennifer Findlay, Wendy Woodhurst and Sandi Nicolson, who all worked with Pieper, and formed a strong bond, 20 years ago at Len Wood.

“Anita’s legacy which includes her smile, her kind heart and the importance she placed on friendship,” said Findlay.

During the ceremony Woodhurst outlined the way a Buddy Bench program works to students at Highland Park.

“It is important to always honour Anita’s legacy; please follow these rules or work with your leadership team to develop your own:

  1. If you are looking for someone to play with or a friend, please sit on Anita’s bench.
  2. If you see someone sitting on the bench, talk to them and invite them to play.
  3. If you are sitting on the bench and someone invites you to play, say “Yes”.

Woodhurst added that Pieper’s family would love it if there is eventually a bench at every elementary school.  “Anita’s legacy is kindness, including everyone and being a good friend which is why the benches are so reflective of her personality,” she said.

She noted that Anita’s legacy may soon be spreading to Enderby, as the Enderby Mayor has expressed an interest.

The Armstrong Kin Club, Shepherd’s Home Hardware and Leko Precast helped sponsor the first three benches, as did donations made to the Anita Pieper Memorial Fund.

The bench at AES has been in place for a while and Principal Corrinne Langston said it is a wonderful addition to the school. “Thank you to Anita’s husband, Chris, her family and the Armstrong Kin Club for the beautiful buddy bench.”

See video of unveiling and more from Vernon Morning Star here