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Bench Dedicated at Academyof Notre Dame to Benjamin Stangroom

October 1, 2018

Members of the Stangroom family gather around the Buddy Bench dedicated in memory of Benjamin. Front row, from left, Keira, Annalise and Jacqueline Stangroom; back row, James, Jim and Cathy Stangroom, Jon and Amanda McLaughlin, Alanna Stangroom, Alan Thivierge and Donna Wholey-Thivierge. COURTESY PHOTO Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

TYNGSBORO -- Members of the Academy of Notre Dame community gathered recently to honor the memory of Benjamin Stangroom.

Benjamin, the late son of James and Alanna Stangroom, holds close ties to the academy. His grandmother, Cathy Stangroom, teaches second grade at NDA, and three of Benjamin’s siblings attend the academy -- Jacqueline (first grade), Keira (fourth grade) and Annalise (eighth grade). Benjamin died shortly after his birth due to a heart condition.

A prayer service was held at the Lower School, where afterwards the Stangroom family, special guests and members of the administration gathered in the back playground to dedicate a newly installed bench in Benjamin’s honor.

This past spring, Chrissy Dixon from the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation contacted NDA officials to donate a Buddy Bench. The Big Heart Foundation was created by the parents of 6-year-old Joseph Middlemiss, who died from a serious heart condition, to carry on his legacy and touch the lives of others.

The Big Heart Foundation’s donation of a Buddy Bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster courage, communication and friendship on the playground.

At the ceremony, Lower School Principal Elizabeth O’Connell spoke of the foundation and her hopes for what the bench may bring to the academy.

“May all who find companionship here continue to spread the mission of the foundation -- all you need is love to make the world a better place,” O’Connell said. “For many days to come and for all acts of kindness and the friends made here will keep the spirit of Benjamin in our hearts.”

The blue bench, adorned with a yellow sunflower, was customized and personally designed by the Stangroom family. At the ceremony, Benjamin’s mother noted that the idea behind the bench truly suits the impact he had on the family.

“To know Benjamin was to not be lonely, so this bench is very fitting,” Alanna Stangroom said.

At the conclusion of a prayer read by Cathy Stangroom, Benjamin’s sisters attached the final piece of the bench, a charcoal-colored tiled heart inscribed with their brother’s name.

The Stangroom family supports Hayden’s House of Healing, a nonprofit retreat center for families with child loss. To help raise money for Hayden’s House of Healing in Benjamin’s name, visit www.classy.org/team/177331 . For more information on Buddy Benches and how to get involved, visit www.buddybench.org .

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