A New and Improved Buddy System?

The buddy system is a key part of ISL’s welcoming process. Built to help accommodate new students within our communities; the buddy system works to develop connections and guide newcomers through life at ISL.

If you joined ISL in middle school, you may be aware that Mr. Harrison is in charge of setting up buddies for years 7 to 9. As students move into High School, things change a bit, and instead of Mr. Harrison, the Year Level Leaders take charge. Simply put, this change was made because it would be far too difficult for Mr. Harrison, and he would lack any direct communication with them since he isn’t the High School principal. Moreover, Year Level Leaders in High School will follow you up until graduation, giving them heaps of time to get to know the students’ likes and interests.

Although this all sounds great, we can all agree we have seen the buddy system go horribly wrong, and ISL students always seem to wonder why the buddy system consistently fails. Was it just a coincidence? Was the pairing not good enough? Is the system itself bad?

To be able to answer this and further understand the process of this system, I spoke to Ms. O’Sullivan; the year-level leader for Y10 this year. Ms. O’Sullivan said that the key for this system to work is to ensure that the students are ‘like-minded’. To achieve this, ISL has decided to ask the new student to give them 5 adjectives to describe themselves, and three key interest areas. But let’s be honest – we all lie when someone asks us to give them 5 adjectives to describe ourselves. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and the new students certainly feel the same way. Nevertheless, the YYL then compares the students’ 5 words to the list of volunteers and pairs them up simply based on that.

A bit skeptical of this system so far? Don’t worry; so are the rest of ISL’s students.

‘If they (new student and buddy) don’t like each other they’re stuck with each other and that just makes them feel bad, which is the opposite of what the buddy system is for’ – Anonymous

‘My personality and interests most definitely cannot be described in five words’- Anonymous

However, last school year, Francesca Fulford, currently a Y10 student, was one of the Student Ambassadors for Y9, and she noticed this issue as well. After speaking to Mr. Harrison, she decided to pitch the idea of creating ‘Buddy Coordinators’. Ideally, one person from each year group would volunteer for this role and would be in charge of setting up buddy volunteers with new students. However, this was unable to be set up in High School this year since the new students had already started being accommodated. Nevertheless, this idea has been further developed and due to the support from teachers and staff, we should see it come into play next year.

Ms. O’Sullivan is one of the teachers who supports this idea, and says that the buddy system’s goal is to “develop relationships between students, so why not be student-led?”. Students agree with Ms. O’Sullivan, saying;

“The setups would be based on our actual personality, and not the one we show in class” -Anonymous

“It (the buddy system) becomes more reliable” -Anonymous

“There is a lot less stress on whether or not you will get along with your buddy” -Anonymous

Transferring the buddy system from the hands of staff to the student body will make this process more intimate between students, and give them the ability to take further leadership of student-related topics. ISL has always been a school dedicated to listening to their student’s voices, and with this fantastic initiative, perhaps a new and improved buddy system can be achieved.