When a bench becomes a place of safety and comfort

HHS students make two ‘Buddy Benches’ for Lakewood Elementary

Henry Cologne and his carpentry students had no problem accepting the challenge of making benches as a safe place for students to seek a haven from being bullied or just loneliness.

When Lakewood Elementary teacher Jessica Gardere approached Cologne about the project, he set his sights on getting it done.

“I immediately accepted the challenge and here we are,” he said. “The students collaborated amongst each other to come up with a plan on designs and cost. They did research on Buddy Benches and got to work. I never dreamed this project would have such an impact. It is almost like a little Kumbaya between the schools.”

Cologne’s motto: “It’s all about the wood.”

Buddy Benches are aimed at promoting anti-bullying and a place to find a friend. HHS’ initiative is called “The Tigers take out bullying one school at a time.”

They set it in motion at Lakewood Elmentary School this year. Last year, they delivered two of them to Luling Elementary School.

This year’s carpentry class consists of five seniors: Noah Billingsley, Amone Brown, Jared Briones, Byron Hogan and Seth Naquin.

Brown welcomed the opportunity to help “stop bullying and to bring kids closer together.”

Briones considered the project an opportunity to make a place for kids to find new friends. He also said the project shows “simple actions can make a long lasting impact.”

Billingsley said the benches also serve as a place to make new friendships. He also discovered “that we can build anything we put our mind to, as long as there is a purpose.”

Student Byron Hogan said he also enjoyed making the benches.

“It makes me feel great to see the reaction from the schools and community,” Hogan said.

These benches are unique in that the students designed them. The class researched them and came up with their own plan.

And the project certainly made a difference to the students who had the chance to help schools.

“This project gave me such a sense of satisfaction,” Billingsley said. “And we all learned that coming together is a necessity to make a difference.”

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