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UNION GROVE–YORKVILLE — Students, staff, and families of Yorkville Elementary School, 18621 Washington Ave., unveiled a new friendship bench, in memory of a former student, on Nov. 14.

Finley Gibson finished his kindergarten school year in 2021. Gibson unexpectedly died in July during his first summer break. The cause of his death is unknown.

The Gibson family shares a hug in front of the new bench. – Credit: Bill Ticha

“He was a very friendly, warm, affectionate, little 5-year-old,” said Bill Ticha, Directing Principal of Yorkville Elementary.

This tragedy weighed heavy on the hearts of the Yorkville Rams, especially on his sister, Abigail, who is a 4th grader at the school.

Her brother’s legacy, however, will live on at the school for years to come.

Finley’s Friendship Bench was installed after the Yorkville Elementary PTO came to the principal and the family with the idea.

The blue friendship bench currently resides next to the new playground at the elementary school and replaces the former “buddy bench.”

“The perfect idea is that if that someone is feeling lonely and they sit on the friendship bench, the rest of the students out there see that, and then go sit next to them,” said Ticha.

Ticha noted that Gibson was the type of person who would’ve accompanied a student on the bench.

Finley’s Friendship Bench

Credit: Bill Ticha

The student’s memory lives on through the memorial. Across the blue bench are the words, “Finley’s Friendship Bench, In Loving Memory of Finley Gibson, Always Rember to Love like Fin.”

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