By Dr. David Leach, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent
Madison Buliung is a fourth grader at Park Avenue Elementary School who likes to swim and run and do arts and crafts.
Her schedule is pretty jam-packed; she’s in her school’s Drama Club (you may have seen her in the school’s recent production of “Lion King Kids” – she was Simba), the Yearbook Club, and the Talent Show. She’s also a member of Girls on the Run and a champion swimmer with the local swim team, “The Aqua Gems.”
But the thing she loves to do more than anything else is making a new friend.
She’ll introduce herself as Maddie – that’s what her pals call her – and she says she tries not to be timid about walking up to a new girl and saying “hello.” That part can be hard sometimes, she admits, taking that first step, and she didn’t always dare to walk up to other kids and start chatting. For her first few years of elementary school she was shy, so she knows what it’s like to feel alone at school.
But she has learned to put her fear aside, and, she says, it’s worth it.
“If I see a girl all by herself I go up to her, so she’s not alone. I really don’t like seeing people sad,” says Maddie. “It makes me feel bad. So I like to go up to them and make them feel better.”
Maddie’s principal, Sandra Wood, said Maddie’s work ethic has helped her succeed as an athlete – she recently earned the opportunity to meet and swim with several U.S. Olympic swimmers – and that Maddie has achieved something that alludes many adults.
“She has created a balance, for her, that is not only demanding, but fulfilling,” said Wood.
The principal added that it’s Maddie’s empathy and kind character that makes her a wonderful teammate and classmate.
“Determination has afforded Madison the opportunity to define who she is and carve out a unique personality for all to befriend,” said. Wood.
Maddie has even come up with a simple formula for making new friends, a method, she says, that works almost without fail, whether it’s a new student at school or a competitor at a swim meet.
“Just go up to them and say something nice,” said Maddie.
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “The Superintendent Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.