The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Lincolnview Elementary has ‘Buddy Bench’

What began two years ago as a bright idea and a desire to make the playground more inclusive has grown into a communitywide effort. The Lincolnview Elementary student body welcomed its new “Buddy Bench” home during the annual carnival.

Some Lincolnview students involved in the Buddy Bench project pose here.
Some Lincolnview students involved in the Buddy Bench project pose here.

Formed in the wake of the Rachel’s Challenge initiative, sixth grade Agents of Change wanted to bring about a way to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground. Anyone who needs someone to play with can sit on the special Buddy Bench, signifying to their peers they wish to be invited to play.  The students began fundraising in an effort to purchase a bench, but aside from a generous initial donation, it was slow going. That’s where Rhonda Longstreth, director of Lincolnview Latchkey, came in. “I am always looking for something fun and educational to do in Latchkey. When I heard about Van Wert Elementary’s project, I thought that would be a great thing for us to do as well!”

So began a year-long enterprise collecting plastic bottle caps to be recycled into plastic lumber and made into a bench. Working with Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana, this initiative is specifically designed by school children for school children. The cost to produce a bench is $325.00, which was paid for with donations. The students sorted and weighed the items after school until they had 500 pounds of caps!

Lincolnview fifth-grader pictured at JA Biz Town.
Lincolnview fifth-grader pictured at JA Biz Town.

“It was amazing to see how fast we reached our goal. Families were bringing in huge bags of caps and lids,” said Longstreth. Elementary school counselor Tonia Verville agrees. “Just watching this grow through their hands and seeing their pride and responsibility for this project has been incredible. Not only are they engaged outside of instructional time, they have learned so much about recycling, caring for the earth, and green living. I love that sense of pride in what they have accomplished. I want to especially thank the Lancer families, Shawn Collins, Jesse Taylor, and the Latchkey students for making this dream come true!”

“We are already saving for a second bench,” says Longstreth. With school pride and a desire to change the world, it won’t be long until another blue bench makes its home in Lancer Land! For more information, see and To donate, contact Tonia Verville at

Fifth graders from Lincolnview Elementary and St. Mary’s Elementary visited JA Biz Town in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on May 4.

The children engaged in hands-on activities in the role of workers and consumers in a fully-interactive simulation of a town, JA Biz Town. Students discovered the importance of working cooperatively within a business and as a community member. They developed several economic skills such as balancing their checkbook after earning an income and making purchases in town. The students gained much knowledge on various careers and an appreciation for how their parents balance professional and personal responsibilities daily.

POSTED: 05/12/17 at 7:51 am. FILED UNDER: Lancer Lines