Best Buddies

High school students form friendships with Head Start preschoolers


The 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children at Head Start preschool are eager to share their projects.

"We're planting grass," Jaeden Perez said excitedly.


Jeslyn Davis (right) helps her buddies Gloria and Lacey Hadges plant seeds.

"It grows from seeds," Jaelyn Hilgendorf added.

The two told their buddy, Racquel Lara, a senior at Payson Center for Success high school, that the grass needed water and dirt to grow.

"Good job," she told them.

One morning a month, teens from Payson Center for Success are put in charge of activities to occupy their Head Start "buddies" for an hour.

"We've done a lot of cool things this year," Wyntee Hlavacek said. "The secret to keeping their interest is to try to put your mind at their level."

They made fingerprint reindeer around Christmas.

January's activity was "The Little Chef's Cookbook."

The teens wrote down recipes exactly as their buddies dictated them. Then they compiled the recipes into books each student took home.

"My buddy loves ..." was another dictation activity. The teens had to learn to ask specific questions like, "What kind of games do you like to play?" rather than, "What do you like to do?"

"I have learned to have patience and that each child has a different personality," Krysta Ramey said.

A craft does not always take up an entire hour, so the teens also read books to their little buddies.

Kiwanis of Zane Grey Country donated Reading is Fundamental books to the program.

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "The Very Busy Spider" by Eric Carle seemed to be the current favorites.

The teenage teachers must also interest their little students in some form of play such as dress-up, blocks or music.

"What are you building," Hlavacek asked Jesse Kovacs as he attached thumb-sized brightly colored balls to longer plastic widgets.

"When it's done I'll tell you," Kovacs said. "Save me the red ones."

He was focused on his project and declined when Hlavacek and his classmate, Rayne Hendley-Middleton, invited him to build a race car.

"What if I want a piece you have?" Jesse looked up from his creation and asked.

"Just ask and we will share our stuff with you," Rayne said.

"It is really nice to give high school students the opportunity to learn child development," said Center for Success principal Kathe Ketchem.

Head Start is taking applications for next year. Contact site manager Lynne Winans at (928) 474-2738 for more information.

Jaeden Perez's favorite recipe for Strawberry Cake:Ingredients -- Three handfuls of flour, two candles, two handfuls of strawberry frosting, two eggs, five handfuls of cream butter, five gallons of strawberry milk and one bottle of hot sauce. Directions: Put the cream butter and flour in a bowl. Then smash the eggs in the bowl and put the milk in the bowl. Stir it and put in the hot sauce. Now, put it in the oven for five minutes. Then take it out and put a lot of strawberry frosting on top with the candles.

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