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A gift fit for knights

A royal surprise from a beloved social worker


Brookwood Elementary School students were declared official Knights of the Realm for their respectfulness, responsibility, kindness and other traits that follow the Code of Chivalry, a moral system from the Middle Ages.

The declaration – for more than 50 lords and ladies in fifth grade, 15 in fourth-grade and 15 in third grade – was made during a surprise visit from a queen, knights and a lord from Medieval Times, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based dinner theater company.

Brookwood Elementary School social worker Pam Buschle arranged for Medieval Times to perform as a surprise for her students

Students learned sword maneuvers from the eloquent and honorable knights and watched sparks fly as weapons clanged during an action-packed joust.

“I was really looking forward to the red knight winning,” said fourth-grader Colette Banks.

The visit was organized by social worker Pam Buschle, who is planning to retire at the end of the school year after nearly three decades. Buschle, who lost her arms and legs to amputation while batting septic shock following routine surgery in 2014, said she wanted to thank the children for the love they’ve given her on her road to recovery and beyond.

“The students and the staff at this school and all of Kentwood have given so generously from their hearts to me. This is just a small token of my appreciation for the (Brookwood) kids because they have shown such acceptance and compassion for me throughout this journey of losing my hands and my feet.”

Buschle said she sees Kentwood students living by the knight’s Code of Chivalry. “It’s really modeling treating others with kindness and respect and that is consistent with our message at Brookwood of teaching kid to interact with each others with compassion and caring and respect for differences.”

Fifth-grader Ashtyn Coykendall puts on her Medieval Times crown

Each May, fifth-graders take a trip to Chicago for a dinner show at Medieval Times. It’s a 10-year-old tradition younger students look forward to, and a great way to bring history and language arts to life, said Principal Lorenzo Bradshaw. It also gives opportunities to students who normally would not have them.

“We find opportunities to bring curriculum to life and we have a big focus on informational text,” he said. “What better way than to simulate and give kids the opportunity to experience Medieval Times?”

Third-grader Kamryn Kruisenga offered her own words of gratitude to Buschle. “I want to thank her by giving her a hug! I know all the trouble she’s been through.”

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Limbs lost, she gives back with her heart

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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