OH Best Buddies Club is about making a difference and forming meaningful and lasting relationships


Olympic Heights Best Buddies club members Emily Nomberg (left) and Ben-tzion “Bentzy” Stein (right) at a pre-COVID-19 club get-together last school year.

Olympic Heights High School has a wide variety of clubs that people are able to join. One of the more popular is known as Best Buddies, a club which has had a major positive impact on our high school. 

The OH Best Buddies Club is part of the Best Buddies International organization which seeks to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Here at OH, that is done by pairing mainstream students with students with disabilities in various activities. Best Buddies is not just a club, it is an avenue to making connections that could last a lifetime. 

“Best Buddies is such an important and integral part of our school, not only because it allows all our students to interact and form friendships with each other, but because it promotes inclusion and a sense of acceptance amongst our student body,” explains Ms. Kristen Bombonato, the club’s faculty sponsor. 

Bombonato goes on to explain that Best Buddies allows students with special needs “to be part of something bigger – interacting with all the kids in our student body, who they might not interact with on a daily basis. It allows for participation in events and activities that encourages camaraderie and bonding experiences between them and their peer buddy.”

“The Best Buddies club means the world to me,” explains Rikki Siegel, the president of the OH Best Buddies chapter. “I was going through a really tough time and nothing made me happy anymore, and that is when I found Best Buddies.

“I moved all of that sadness into determination to help others, and frankly, this club and the buddies have changed my life just as much or maybe more than I can imagine that I can change theirs,” Siegel continues. “My favorite thing about this club is being able to see the impact that I have on the buddies’ lives,” It is clear that Best Buddies is very meaningful to its members. 

“I joined because I wanted to give these kids a special opportunity to be included in something special,” Best Buddies member Maxwell Greenspan said. “I wanted to show that these kids are just like us, they do things just like us, they have the same emotions just like us, and they deserve to be included. My favorite part about this club is being able to share the special moments that these kids will remember forever.” 

Jessica Stempler, also a Best Buddies club member, echoed Greenspan’s sentiments, “I joined Best Buddies because I wanted to make these kids feel included and positively impact them. My favorite part of being in Best Buddies is that I get to make special friendships with these kids and it is always fun hanging out with them.” Best Buddies club inspired many people and has taught them how important it is to help others. This club is not only about making friendships, but it also changes lives. 

“This year’s main goal is to get our Best Buddies message and intent out to the entire school, even though virtual school is still upon us,” explains Nathifa Nahar, the Best Buddies Parliamentarian. “Our goal this year is to raise awareness about what Best Buddies is and why we do what we do. We will be going virtual this year! We may not have more peer buddies and buddies this year, however we will be making the best of the situation.”