As NFSSE Head of School Sally Hazelip walked around lunch tables she whispered, “Isn’t this great?” Hazelip was referring to the return of Bolles Buddies which met last Tuesday. It was the first in person gathering of the students since the pandemic began more than 18-months ago.
The program is a partnership between high school students from Jacksonville’s Bolles School and NFSSE’s Secondary and Transition students. Although many of the students have participated in the program in the past, Hazelip had an important message to all of the young adults. “I want all of you to realize that you are much more alike than different in this school.”
One Bolles student who realized that a long time ago is Avery T. who is the Club President for Bolles Buddies. “I love coming back here and doing all these activities, and we all get excited to take part in all these opportunities that are fun,” says the Bolles Senior who also participated in this summer’s iCan Bike camp. “I’ve made some awesome connections here that I know I’ll continue long after I leave Bolles.”
One of those connections was pretty immediate when Bolles students recognized Transition student Jack K. as a sibling to Bolles student. “I’m pretty new here so this is nice to be here with my friends and my brother’s friends,” explained Jack. “They know both of us, and they were asking me all kinds of questions about us.”
This is the 15th year that Bolles Buddies has taken place and while last year’s program was limited to distanced activities such as pen pals, this year’s kickoff event on Tuesday was well attended. The program meets monthly, and the meetings are full of conversation and activities. On this first night, students decorated pumpkins and labeled them with descriptive words of how they were feeling. Trepidation was gone almost as soon as the students gathered together. Groups formed, students went table to table, and all began to share their stories. If Tuesday’s first gathering is any indication, this year’s Bolles Buddies is going to be full of fun and friendship!