Pieper’s legacy honoured with North Okanagan ‘buddy benches’

Three benches erected at Armstrong schools in memory of beloved education assistant Anita Pieper

Anita Pieper was everybody’s buddy.

The beloved certified education assistant (CEA) in Armstrong, who died suddenly in October 2018, is being remembered in the community with the installation of ‘Buddy Benches.’

Three have been erected in her hometown at Len Wood Middle School, Armstrong Elementary and the third was installed Wednesday morning with a special ceremony at Highland Park Elementary.

“We are here today to honour Anita’s legacy which includes her smile, her kind heart and the importance she placed on friendship,” said Jennifer Findlay, district vice-principal for School District No. 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Findlay was joined at the school-wide assembly by Shuswap Middle School (Salmon Arm) principal Wendy Woodhurst and CEA Sandi Nicholson. The trio first met Pieper and worked with her 20 years ago when all were at Len Wood Middle School.

“Anita had such a full heart with the love she had for her family, which she talked about endlessly, her love for the schools, the staffs and their families, but she had a special place in her heart for kids who were having a tough time at school, whether it was a bad day, or those who needed extra learning or extra learning on how to be a good friend.”

The Buddy Bench idea came from a trip Pieper took with her husband, Chris, to Grande Prairie to visit their son, Jeff. The Pieper’s grandson sat alone on the bench during a school day and a student came and talked to him. Another student was sitting on the bench later, and the Pieper’s grandson went and chatted with him and became a friend.

“We are honoured to be here today,” said Chris Pieper, Armstrong’s Mayor, joined at Wednesday’s ceremony by two of his kids, Chad and Sara, and two grandchildren.“You have no idea how this makes us feel, to be able to participate in this.”

As explained by Woodhurst, there are three rules to the Buddy Bench for students:

• If you’re looking for some to play with or a friend, please sit on Anita’s bench;

• If you see someone sitting on the bench, talk to them and invite them to play;

• If you’re sitting on the bench and someone invites you to play, say “yes.”

“We hope students become better people because of the bench, as that’s Anita did to us; she made us better people,” said Woodhurst.

The goal is to install a Buddy Bench in each elementary-middle school in the district, 18 in total.

The Armstrong Kin Club, Shepherd’s Home Hardware and Leko Precast helped sponsor the first three benches, as did donations made to the Anita Pieper Memorial Fund.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Chris Pieper, son Chad and daughter Sara (standing, from left) and grandson Oliver (seated far left) were on hand Wednesday at Armstrong’s Highland Park Elementary, along with the school’s leadership group, for the unveiling of the Anita Pieper Buddy Bench, erected in memory of Pieper’s late wife, a beloved education assistant in the North Okanagan Shuswap School District. Three benches have been installed at Highland Park, Armstrong Elementary and Len Wood Middle School. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Just Posted

Kelowna dog ‘Alice’ to get surgery thanks to BC SPCA crowdfunding

With the surgery, Alice’s prognosis is ‘excellent,’ stated the BC SPCA

UBC Okanagan partners with Blood Services Canada to educate, recruit donors

Nursing students from Okanagan university take to community events to inform public

Kelowna man charged with killing wife and two daughters returns to court

Jacob Daniel Forman appeared before B.C. Supreme Court today

Suspicious item forces 47 to evacuate plane at Kelowna airport

Kelowna RCMP continue investigation of suspicious item on airplane

Kelowna man nearly drowns on Okanagan Lake

The victim is in serious yet stable condition but his condition has worsened since going to hospital

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: High temperatures with mix of sun and cloud

Your weather report for Tuesday, August 20th, 2019.

Kayaks, paddleboards stolen from tenants at Shuswap resort

Thefts reported to have occurred overnight on Wednesday, Aug. 14

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Kamloops man arrested for smashing windows and cars

The man barricaded himself in a motel room

Most Read