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Avondale buddy benches dedicated to beloved parent

Two new picnic tables and benches have been installed at Avondale School in honour of a parent who suddenly passed away in September 2014. Parent council treasurer Lareina Behnsen says Phillip Dort was very involved with the school.

“[He] volunteered for anything and everything that he absolutely could, so we just wanted to do something special for the family since he had been pretty dedicated to this school.”

On top of being a place to sit, the benches are also “buddy benches”, a growing trend in Canadian schools. Any student who doesn’t have someone to play with at recess or lunch can sit there to signal to others they’d like to join.

Behnsen says they’d been looking into getting a buddy bench for the past few years, and were able to get a $5,000 grant from the City of Grande Prairie to help with the total cost. The parent council also does regular fundraising, and came up with the other $3,000 needed.

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Both benches are engraved, and one has been placed in each of the east and west playgrounds, along with a picnic table. Behnsen says they wanted to make the playground more family-friendly and benefit the community as a whole.

“There’s lots of children and families that use those playgrounds and areas outside of school hours, so this way the families are able to enjoy that as well.”

A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday night.

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