Hilton School has become the fourth and last Brighton elementary school to become part of the Recess KLUB and receive its complimentary “Meet Up Spot” bench. The acronym “KLUB” stands for Kindness and Leadership Uniting Buddies”, and that’s the purpose of the program - to exhibit kindness to fellow students and make sure that no one is lonely or left out.

Part of that goal is accomplished by the special bench, which is now installed at the outdoor playground outside Hilton, just as it is at the other three elementary schools in Brighton: Hawkins, Hornung, and Spencer, as well as Maltby Intemediate School.

At an assembly held Friday, Principal Jeff Eisele showed Hilton students the bench and provided an introduction to the program. The Recess KLUB started in 2015 at Hawkins School, where Charlotte Mandziuk was a student. According to her mother, Nicole Mandziuk, Charlotte noticed that sometimes a student might be alone and off to himself or herself, and seemingly lonely, or perhaps with a personal problem.

Charlotte got the idea of a “Buddy Bench” for kids to sit on if they needed companionship at recess from her sister, who came home upset one day because she didn't have anyone to play with at recess. Charlotte thought up the idea of having a special bench where students at the school would be versed on performing an act of kindness by sitting with the student and making conversation, playing with him or her, or drawing the child out if having a personal problem.

Mandziuk says that Charlotte entered a contest sponsored by Toys “R” Us called the “National President of Play" contest with her Buddy Bench idea and ended up a finalist. As a result, she received a $10,000 prize to be used to purchase the special benches. Charlotte first went to the Hawkins School principal, and from there to Superintendent Greg Gray and the Board of Education. The result was a resounding “yes”, and the green light to have the benches and appropriate signs installed at the schools.

Nicole Mandziuk says that according to what staff and administrators have told her, the Buddy bench idea has been very successful at the schools where the program has been put into place. (TT)

Top photo: Spencer Elementary Recess KLUB mentors, together with Principal Bill Renner and the Brighton Bulldog mascot.
Bottom photo: Hilton Recess KLUB mentors, Principal Jeff Eisele and club founder Charlotte Mandziuk. Photos courtesy of Nicole Mandziuk.