Kindness bridges friendship

LINKS begin as helpers, finish as friends


“They make me laugh and make me do my work,” eighth grader Wyatt Perry said. “Chris Hall is my favorite because we’ve been friends for two years now.” 

Senior Chris Hall is a LINK for Wyatt—well, not not just a — but a friend, too. In the classroom, LINKS serve as students who help peers with creating social interaction, completing school work and reaching goals.

Social worker John Twining thinks that because of the kindness the LINKS, all 80 of them, bring to their buddies, there are 16 buddies, peers act on that kindness and share it as well.

“LINKS are an opportunity for students that are struggling in a class to have enough support to be successful in that class,” Twining said. “And the older students provide the encouragement and courage and some of the knowledge to get these kids going. Some students get so overwhelmed with school that they just stop working, and these LINKS give them the courage to try and give them some of the stick-to-it-iveness that maybe they had to learn over time, too.”

 Having a small classroom with students that have a disability helps them understand what they are learning. 

Even a quiet place away from distraction helps these students with their learning.  At the booths in the center of school, LINKS and buddies create opportunities for one-on-one experiences between them.

Social interaction, or a blending with different people and having different experiences with their classmates, naturally forms.

 “Kids love them,” Twining said of the LINKS with their buddies. This could be because LINKS don’t just help other students with work, they help themselves, too. When a student gets a buddy and becomes a LINK, it changes the perspective of who they want to be. 

“The kids they work with, actually, absolutely adore them,” Twining said. “Adults are great and they’re very helpful, but the students bring a social connection. So, the buddies get the benefit of the older Big Brother, Big Sister kind.”

One such relationship formed between juniors Brooklyn Baker and Emily Evans.

“Well, her birthday is extremely special to her,” Baker said. “And, up until her birthday, she would tell me every single day, how many days were until her birthday. Like, how many days, how many weeks, how many months—every single day.”

For the entire month before her birthday, Baker planned a birthday party for Evans. 

It was a surprise, so leading up to the event, Baker would ask her about her favorite foods, colors and gifts.

“She would always ask for Spaghettios,” Baker said. “So, the morning of her birthday, I got here at 6:30 a.m. and set up for her birthday. I brought balloons and Ms. Cyr bought her a cake. Everyone got her presents. Everybody in the entire class made her a card out of giant construction paper.”

Evans described her party as “awesome—Because there was cake and milk.”

In the end, instead of eating her own cake, Evans cut up the rest of the cake and gave it out to all the teachers.

Of her time with Baker, Evans thinks they are a team and work hard in the classroom. 

“Emily and Brooklyn are amazing teammates,” Twining said. “They work great together and both get a lot out of working together.”