BELLEVUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Finding friends in school isn't easy when you're the new kid. That’s why 17-year-old Kylee Biedermann created the Bellevue Big Buddies program. She wanted to give younger students confidence to start a new school with a familiar face.
Biedermann started the program this year. Current seniors don’t participate, with the exception of Biedermann, who is a big buddy to fifth grader, Jack. “He’s great; he makes me laugh,” she says.
She wants students who are new to middle or high school to develop sustainable, long lasting relationships. “We start them in fourth grade and they're paired up with sophomores and they stay with that buddy through their senior year, so they'll be in sixth grade and the high school buddy will be a senior,” she explains.
Bellevue Superintendent Tom Meyer says Biedermann’s effort is valuable to students, parents and staff in the district. "Just that transition from 5th grade to 6th grade and middle school can be stressful for kids sometimes, but it gives them a familiar face to see and just connects them overall."
The idea for Bellevue Big Buddies came from Bellevue Big. It's a program that promotes out-of-the-classroom thinking to create solutions for real world problems. Upper class students can apply to be part of Bellevue Big and meet off campus on their own schedule. “You're not taking notes, you're not taking tests; you’re doing projects that you're passionate about that you will actually use in your future."
Biedermann balances a lot in her busy schedule. She's an all-state academic in track, volleyball, basketball, and softball. She's the president of her student council and serves on the National Honor Society, among other clubs and activities. But she always makes time for Jack and her vision for the future and growth of Bellevue Big Buddies. She’s ready to pass the torch for the next school year.
"It's already got the foundation to go to next year, to the following year, to the following year,” says Meyer.
“That's the most important thing in any program to get going is that it can continue after you leave.”
Biedermann will graduate in May. She plans to join the nursing program at Clarke University in Dubuque this fall.