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Pink Buddy Bench at Springdale Elementary has special meaning and message

West Columbia, SC 06/15/2021 - Look out over the playground at Springdale Elementary, and one of the first things that catches your eye is the new bright pink buddy bench.

That new bench -- along with an ocean-themed seesaw, red flower table and lime green spinner chair -- were dedicated Monday in memory of Faye Swetlik, who was a first-grader at Springdale Elementary in Lexington Two when she went missing in early 2020 in a case that drew national attention. Springdale students and staff held a school-wide dedication event Monday with singing, bubbles and balloons.

The idea for a playground grew out of conversations between Faye’s first-grade teachers -- among them Michele Tynes, Catherine Prosser and Morgen Sightler -- along with other teachers and administrators at Springdale. An anonymous donor gave the buddy bench in pink, one of Faye’s favorite colors, while Tenfold Collective business owner Misty Burton made a donation that allowed the purchase of an ocean-themed seesaw, adorned with Springdale’s dolphin mascot and the first grade’s shark mascot.

“The playground is a place where friendships are made, laughter is contagious, and everyone is accepted,” said Tynes, Faye’s first-grade homeroom teacher. “Faye loved to dance and sing at recess. She made sure everyone had a friend to play with.”

The goal, Tynes said, is to have a space on the playground that captures Faye’s fun-loving spirit. Perhaps no single item on the playground speaks to that spirit more than the pink bench, inscribed with Faye’s name and painted with rainbows.

“The bright pink bench is a reminder of her message -- love and kindness,” Tynes said. “We hope talking about this will inspire students to embrace this outlook on life, too.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Wearing shirts for Faye in her favorite colors, first-grade teachers Morgen Sightler, left, Michele Tynes and Catherine Prosser stand at the bright pink buddy bench for Faye.


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