The St. Ursula Catholic School community gathered to dedicate a 'buddy bench' in honour of all of those who passed through St. Joseph Catholic School in Chatham from 1901 to 2019. The school closed last June after 118 years, in the first step towards what will eventually become the amalgamation of St. Joseph, St. Ursula and Georges P. Vanier Catholic schools in Chatham.
"This beautiful 'buddy bench' is a wonderful symbol of the caring community that was St. Joseph for so many years," says Deb Crawford, Director of Education. "We have come together as one community at St. Ursula and we will take this bench with us when we finally become one with the Georges P. Vanier community, when our new south Chatham Catholic elementary school is built."
A 'buddy bench' is a place where students who are feeling sad or lonely can sit. When other students notice someone on the 'buddy bench' they can come alongside and ask what they can do to help.
"It's a way for us to show we are thinking about and caring for each other," says Liz Gibson, Principal of St. Ursula Catholic School.
The bench was donated to the school by St. Joseph's Knights of Columbus Council 10436 and the St. Joseph Catholic Women's Leagues - City and Harwich. It was designed and built by Sean Ions, of S I Water Gardens in Blenheim.
Father Jude Ogbenna of the Chatham Family of Parishes led students, staff and invited guests in the blessing and dedication of the bench.
In the photos along with students are (top left) (L-R) Deb Crawford, St. Clair Catholic Director of Education; Sharon Thievin and Clara Roesch, Catholic Women's League; Joe Legue, Knights of Columbus; and Liz Gibson, Principal, St. Ursula Catholic School; and (above right) Father Jude Ogbenna leads the blessing and dedication of the 'buddy bench.'