‘Buddy Bench’ installed at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary
KENOVA — As students across Wayne County make their way back to school this morning, Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School will start the year by using a new piece of playground equipment to teach students about being buddies, not bullies.
After the late Ritchie Dorsey retired, he spent the rest of his life giving back to C-K Elementary in Kenova. Dorsey volunteered at the school for more than two decades, keeping busy with odd jobs like painting or building while lending his time to the staff at the school.
He died in March 2018, and even though Dorsey won’t be a physical presence this school year, his legacy will live on through a brand new “Buddy Bench” on the school playground, which was dedicated in memory of Dorsey and his wife, Joy, during a back-to-school open house event Tuesday at C-K Elementary.
“It’s going to be a big part of our school this year, being kind and being a buddy. The Buddy Bench will be a focal point for us, especially after lunchtime,” Principal Deidre Farley said. “We’re going to talk to them on the first day and tell them if they are lonely or sad that they can sit on that bench.”
Buddy Benches are designed for making friends and have become increasingly popular throughout the country, now appearing on more than 2,000 elementary school playgrounds across the country. Farley said the administration at C-K Elementary will explain
to each student the purpose of the bench and to be mindful of the bench during recess time, especially after lunch.
“There is so much going on today with bullying and kids being left alone that this Buddy Bench can help,” Farley said. “If somebody wants to come and sit on it, then other kids know that they want a buddy to sit down with them and talk to them.”
The Buddy Bench was funded through donations received at Dorsey’s funeral in March. An anonymous donor also gave $5,000 to give the playground a face-lift, which included a commemorative plaque that reads, “Let all you do be done in love,” mounted on the playground fence.
“When he passed away, people gave in lieu of flowers. We had people donate to the elementary (school),” Dorsey’s daughter, Kelly Dorsey Napier, said. “Deidre (Farley) helped us figure out what we could do, and they suggested a Buddy Bench.”
“His memory now lives on at the new school just as it did in the old school building. That’s something that makes me smile,” Farley said of Dorsey. “He was our handyman, a friend of each kid and somebody that everyone looked forward to seeing when he came into the building with that big, huge smile of his. He was a part of this school.”