"Buddy Benches" dedicated in honor of late Plymouth teacher
“I really miss him and he used to be my mom and dad’s and all my sister’s and brothers’ teacher,” said Heaven Collins, 3rd grade student at Webster Elementary School.
Over a hundred staff, students, friends, and family members of former music teacher Robert Pickell gathered inside the gym at Webster Elementary Friday afternoon.
Mr. Pickell died in July after falling through his roof at home. In his honor, the school dedicated two buddy benches made of recycled material and significant meaning.
“Recycling he loved because he thought it was an easy thing that anybody can do and now to have these buddy benches at the school I think is something he would be just so proud of,” said Chris Pickell, Robert Pickell’s wife.
Students also had the opportunity to write a few goodbye words for Pickell.
“I talked about how I used to hate music when I first went to Webster, but when I notice how much he cared about me and my family, I used to like music more and more and now I love music…. Because of him,” Heaven Collins.
One student even memorizing a saying for a card to Pickell after seeing it outside of school.
“There’s this stone, and it’s engraved with the words ‘No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye, you were gone before we knew it, and only God knows why’. I had it repeating in my head,”said Dolan Berkuypile, 3rd grade student.
Current music teacher Tricia Witmen knew Pickell since she was in the 6th grade. She says the benches will serve their purpose in providing a friend for whoever chooses to sit on them, just like Pickell taught his students.
“To dedicate those in his honor and to call them buddy benches is kind of just…. The epitome of who he was,” said Witmen.
And make sure his presence is always felt here at Webster Elementary.
“Kind of saying a goodbye and at the same time letting it be known that his memory will live on forever,” said Witmen.
The staff and students also planted a tree next to the building in his honor. They say once it is large enough to hold the plaque they’ve ordered they’ll place it on this tree.