Hawley Friendship Bench Lends A Lesson, Finds A Home

Inside Hawley’s multipurpose room on Thursday, April 24, a colorful bench was placed before the room’s stage. The bench, multicolored and covered in words, is called The Friendship Bench.

In Hawley Elementary School’s most recent PTA newsletter, Hawley lead teacher Roxanne Melaragno wrote an explanation of how the bench came to the school.

“Recently Hawley School received a unique gift from a young girl with big dreams,” Ms Melaragno wrote. “At the end of March, Acaia Woodley, a seventh grade girl from Palm Bay, Florida, delivered a Friendship Bench to Hawley School that represents her mission of spreading friendship and kindness to schools throughout the United States and Canada. Acaia presented the Friendship Bench to Hawley School’s Student Council.”

According to Ms Melaragno, Acaia told the Hawley School Student Council about the importance of feeling a sense of belonging.

“To her, the Friendship Bench is a place were students can go when they are feeling left out or in need of a friend,” said Ms Melaragno. “When someone sits on the bench it is a signal to others that that person may need a hug, someone to make them smile, or even someone to listen. She reminded everyone that each one of them is amazing and that they should never feel like anything less.”

Ms Melaragno said Hawley Elementary School students have been learning about the Friendship Bench and what it means over the last few weeks at the school.

“All of the Hawley School student body will learn about the message of friendship and kindness that the bench represents. They will learn that each one of them has a responsibility and a duty to help carry out the mission of the Friendship Bench and make everyone feel like they belong at Hawley School,” Ms Melaragno wrote.

Eventually the Friendship Bench will be placed outside at the Hawley School’s playground.

“The Friendship Bench will symbolize for Hawley School that kindness is a true measure of character and that each one of us should continue to pass it on,” Ms Melaragno wrote.

The Friendship Bench was made by CRP Products and reads, in part, “Friendship is the gold ribbon that ties the world together. From your friends in Palm Bay, Florida.”

Other words included on the bench include “joy,” “love,” “respect,” “understanding,” “generosity,” “determination,” and “courage.”

More information about Acaia and her organization is available at www.tinygirlbigdream.org.

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