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Third grader Caylee Hill has plans which she’s been eager to put in motion to help her peers connect with each other. With the installation of a buddy bench and game board in one of the elementary playgrounds, one dream of hers is complete.
“I’ve seen kids on the playground who didn’t have people to play with,” said Caylee. “I thought it’d be a good way to help our school.”

A buddy bench, which Caylee read about in Highlights magazine, is a place for a student to sit if they don’t have anyone to talk to or play with. Once they sit down, one of their peers can sit with them to play or talk as a way to socialize and feel included.

Caylee also believes the bench is a great place for friends who are fighting to talk to rebuild their friendship.

“They could actually become friends again,” said Caylee.

Caylee had planned to pay for the bench herself, with a match from her parents. However, once she presented the idea to Mrs. Tammie Hewitt, Elementary principal, verbally and with a written proposal, Mrs. Hewitt realized that the high school Construction Technology class would be able to construct the bench. The class decided to donate the bench.

Instead, Caylee used her funds for paint to decorate the bench. Her sister, Randi, a freshman in high school, painted the words “Buddy Bench” on the Tiger orange bench. Caylee wants to add paw prints because “we are the Tigers.”

Her grandparents also created a checkerboard out of a log, complete with rock for checkers painted like bees and ladybugs, so that anyone who sat on the bench could play together.

As part of this project, Caylee with select friends, will be creating a video about the buddy bench, which will be shared on the school website and at the six weeks assembly.

Caylee also hopes to get another bench for the other playground, which doesn’t have any equipment, but wants to wait to see how this project is utilized.

“The buddy bench wouldn’t be possible without Principal Hewitt, the high school, my family,” said Caylee, clearly understanding the value of teamwork.

“Her hard work and determination - sticking to it - paid off,” said Mrs. Hewitt.

Caylee’s plans for the future include politics so she can make positive changes in the world.

“I’m going to be mayor to congress to government to president,” said Caylee. “To do something good is to do something great.”

With her let’s-do-it attitude, Caylee has already begun those positive changes.
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The mission of Smithville I.S.D. is to improve the academic performance of students. To achieve this goal the school district will provide effective instructional leadership, responsible fiscal management, and an atmosphere in which all students can develop and mature academically, physically, emotionally, and socially.