Mallory McMurray, a junior at Mountain Pointe High School, completed her Girl Scouts Gold award by installing a friendship bench at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School.

The way the friendship bench works is during recess or lunch time if a student is feeling alone they can sit at the friendship bench and other students are encouraged to invite them to play, McMurray said.

The friendship bench also focuses on combating bullying and making sure the school offers a friendly environment to every student.

“If there is something deeper going on, a playground assistant can come over and talk to make sure everything is OK,” McMurray said. “I started this process last summer, but it got installed about a week ago.”

McMurray also added cement tiles, which lay in front of the friendship bench, and students from Kids Club at Colina helped with the designs.

She chose to have the friendship bench at Colina because it was her old elementary school.

“It’s a great school and I really liked it here,” McMurray said. “It was nice seeing it all come together, and I loved the way it turned out.”

Kelley Brunner, principal at Colina, said she worked with McMurray for the past year on the project.

“One of the things we work really hard on here is promoting kids being respectful and including each other, so she came up with this idea about the friendship bench and I loved it,” Brunner said. “The whole point of it is to help students notice when people need a friend. I appreciate the fact that she wanted to give back to a school that helped her be successful.”

McMurray also created a PowerPoint presentation about the friendship bench and sent it to every teacher at Colina so they would know how it will be used.

McMurray plans to introduce friendship benches at different schools around the Kyrene School District, and will work with Brunner to talk to principals about the idea of a friendship bench being part of their school.

“It has so much potential to get rid of bullying because kids will see that friends want to be included,” Brunner said.

Brunner and McMurray plan to get students and faculty members at Colina more involved with the friendship bench in the fall.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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