Lynbrook North Middle School sixth graders in Bryton Saunders’ class transformed their classroom into a Mexican fiesta in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Leading up to their celebration, the students created their own maracas and mini piñatas with the help of seventh and eighth grade North students involved in the school’s Owl Buddies Program. The buddies then joined the class for a period of Cinco de Mayo fun.
Facilitated by Saunders and fellow staff members Kelly DiBenedetto, Karen Feltkamp, Allison Franco, Jenn Sebetic and Maureen Teramo, the Owl Buddies Program connects older students with younger students once a week during lunch periods. These buddies serve as role models to their younger peers and the program allows for new friendships to be formed through conversation, crafts and games.
“I saw this as an opportunity to be friends with more people,” said eighth grade Owl Buddy Jared Hospedales. “I wanted to show the sixth graders that not all eighth graders are these big tough kids. It’s a chance for us to have fun and to see them smile.”
During the Cinco de Mayo celebration, the sixth graders, along with members of the Owl Buddies Program participated in a maraca game where students had to pass three maracas around in a circle and when the music stopped, the individuals holding the maracas had to dance in the middle of the circle. In addition, the sixth graders and their eighth grade buddies pulled open their colorful mini piñatas. Candy fell to the floor and all the students quickly scrambled to collect. The celebration concluded on a high note as all the students enjoyed some snacks and being in each other’s company.
“My favorite part of this program is being able to hang out with the sixth graders,” said eighth grade Owl Buddy Gianna Longo. “It’s just a nice positive environment and I love to be here.”