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The GVS Connection: Building Character Through the Buddies Program

The GVS Connection: Building Character Through the Buddies Program

Fridays at Green Vale pulse with a special kind of energy. Certainly, the half-day schedule adds to the sense of excitement, but it's the select Fridays that truly sparkle—when Upper School students meet with their Early Childhood buddies for an array of engaging and fun-filled activities. It's a time where the spirit of camaraderie is front and center, turning an ordinary Friday into an extraordinary experience at Green Vale.

A beacon of the school's commitment to character education and community spirit, the Buddies Program essence lay in the simple, yet profound idea of pairing Upper School students with the youngest members of the Green Vale family. This mentorship extended beyond the confines of the classroom and into the heart of what it means to be a responsible Upper School leader and part of a caring community. 

Olivia Lichota, an 8th Grade GVS student, embodies the spirit of the Buddies Program. Her eyes lit up as she reflected upon first meeting her Early Childhood buddies over the years. Olivia, along with her peers, had prepared for this role, understanding that their actions would now be seen through the magnifying lens of admiration and innocence.

“I like the buddy experience because it gives us the chance to be role models for younger kids," Olivia shared. She also recognized that her words, her actions, even her mannerisms were now mirrored by another. It was not just about being a mentor; it was about being a worthy one.

The Buddies Program acts as a microcosm of the world outside the school's nurturing embrace. It’s a preparatory ground, where Upper School students learn to lead not by authority, but by example. They come to understand that true leadership is defined by a behavior and the relentless pursuit of the betterment of others.Through this tradition, students also learn invaluable life lessons—empathy, responsibility, and the power of positive influence.

As the year unfolds, the buddies will meet during various school events, each interaction weaving a stronger bond, and a firmer commitment to the values Green Vale stands behind. It’s through these interactions that the Upper School students discover the joy of selflessness, and the younger ones experience the security of a guiding hand.  

Kristin Nastos, GVS Science teacher and 6th Grade Advisor, watched as her 6th graders stepped into their new roles this year as big buddies. “The Buddy Program in the Upper School is probably everyone’s favorite tradition,” she said. The transformation she witnessed each year never failed to impress her. She explained that the “big kids”—often seen juggling the trials of adolescence—shed their cloaks of self-consciousness and commanded their new position with a natural grace that was both heartwarming and inspiring.

The story of Green Vale's Buddies Program is not just about the events that take place during the school year. It’s about the quiet moments of connection, the gentle nudges towards excellence, and the echoes of laughter bridging the gap between years. It becomes a legacy of leadership and character—a testament to the understanding that to build a strong future, one must nurture the roots with intention and care.