By Teddy Siker
The senior-freshman buddy gift program was led this year by Bisrat B. and Joan Marie H. to make freshmen “feel welcome in the upper school”, according to Bisrat.
She says that being a freshman is quite confusing and scary, and the idea to help with this problem stuck with her. She tells me that she wanted to take charge of the program because she was amazed by her senior buddy when she was a freshman herself. “It creates a sense of community and togetherness. It’s a way for seniors to be engaged and stay active in the community. It’s also a way of practicing acts of kindness in a more structured way,” Bisrat says. Joan Marie’s responses were similar to Bisrat. She mentions community, her senior buddy experience, and closing the gap between the vast age difference. “During my freshman year I had an amazing senior buddy who made me feel like I had a nice older kid looking out for me. This is what she said: “I didn’t have any siblings at OES, so to know someone cared about me meant a lot. I wanted to make sure that other freshman could have that feeling.”
In addition to interviewing Bisrat and Joan Marie, I also interviewed several freshman. I asked them what they had received so far and if they wanted to say anything about the program. Zachary R., Asa., and Ava C. have all received gifts such as cookies and starbursts. Matthew L. and Mason L. haven’t received anything yet. “I can’t wait to get my big surprise!” says Matthew. Mason had a different response, “I think my buddy died.” Personally, I have received one gift from my senior which contained gummies, a Doge kit, and some chocolates.
The senior-freshman buddy gift system has been running well so far. I think it should continue, as I agree with Bisrat and Joan Marie. It is a warm welcome, and let’s freshman know that people as far as four years older than them care.