WEST LIBERTY – On May 24, West Liberty-Salem Elementary received two new friendship benches for its playground thanks to Matthew Schuster, a WL-S senior who chose the benches as his Boy Scout Life project. He presented his benches to staff members, teachers and a group of elementary students in a ceremony by the benches, where students can make new friendships.
Schuster said his own experiences provided the inspiration for the project. “I’ve moved around a lot as a result of my father being re-stationed while he was an Air Force member, and so I’ve always been making new friends,” he said. “I wanted to make a way for kids to more easily make friends, especially if they’re new to the school.”
He noted one bench is painted in the school’s colors, and the other is a tribute to a WL-S student who passed away earlier this school year. “They were the favorite colors of my closest friend here at WL-S, Devin Marchal, who was a fellow Boy Scout as well.”
Schuster and about 24 friends put in over 40 hours working on the benches over three weekends. Schuster’s mother, Susan Schuster, said that the benches are also a tribute to all the friends who saw her son through many moves and his journey with autism and ADHD.
The Scout said he hopes students are inspired to help one another and to make lifelong friends by taking a seat.
Info from the West Liberty-School district.