Buddies on Skates

Posted on 13 March 2009

There were plenty of slips, flips and falls, but more laughs than anything else at Buckskill Winter Club last week when students of Sag Harbor Elementary School took over the ice-skating rink.

Kindergartners were partnered up with their fifth grade “buddies” who helped the younger kids maneuver around the ice.

Though this wasn’t the first time the kindergartners got help from their elders,

Some of the students said it was their favorite so far in a series of “buddy” activities which are designed to help kindergarteners transition smoothly into school.

Throughout the year, the Sag Harbor fifth graders help the kindergarteners with academics and learning to cope with their new school. They also eat lunch together at least once a week.

Last Friday, the kids enjoyed a skate day at the Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton, where they could be seen practicing their ice skating skills with each other.

“I fell a million times,” kindergartener Francesca Vitale said, but she added that her fifth grade buddy helped pick her up and put her back on her feet.

Fellow kindergartner, Anne Browning, had never been skating before and said her buddy really helped her a lot by teaching her how to use a walker, a device designed to make it easier for beginner skaters to get around on the ice. She said the fifth graders also helped her by picking her up when she fell.

One fifth grader said his partner was “slipping and flipping” all over the ice. But by the end of the day, the kindergartener was able to give up his walker and “went all by himself,” according to George Kneeland, a fifth grade teacher.

Sofia Fernandez, another fifth grader, said that her partner just kept “falling and falling” but the best part of the day was helping her back up.

Erica Selyukova said she was surprised her kindergarten buddy could skate at all — she said it made her feel good she could be next to her to skate. When asked how she thought her partner might feel if she didn’t have a buddy — Selyukova said, “She would feel lonely.”

Fellow fifth grader Sheila Mackey said it makes her feel good to be part of the buddy system.

“I felt like I was re-living what it was like to be in kindergarten,” said Mackey who added that when her buddy feels sad, she is able to talk to her and make her feel better.

Otis Eames said that being a fifth-grade buddy to the kids in kindergarten “teaches responsibility.” Eames also said that he “watches over them so they don’t do anything they are not supposed to do.”



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