Bench Dedicated to Memory of Infant Son of Academy Family

Bench Dedicated to Memory of Infant Son of Academy Family

Recently, members of the Academy of Notre Dame (NDA) community gathered to honor the memory of Benjamin Stangroom.

Benjamin, the late son of James and Alanna Stangroom, holds close ties to the Academy. Grandmother Cathy Stangroom teaches second grade at NDA and three of Benjamin’s siblings attend the Academy, Jacqueline (grade 1), Keira (grade 4) and Annalise (grade 8). Benjamin passed away shortly after his birth due to a heart condition.

A Prayer Service was held at the Lower School, where afterwards the Stangroom family, special guests and members of the administration gathered to the back playground to dedicate a newly installed bench in Benjamin’s honor. In the spring, Chrissy Dixon from the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation contacted the Academy to donate a Buddy Bench. The Big Heart Foundation was created by the parents of a 6-year-old boy, Joseph, who passed away from a serious heart condition to carry on his legacy and touch the lives of others.

The Big Heart Foundation’s donation of a Buddy Bench is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster courage, communication and friendship on the playground. At the ceremony, Lower School Principal Elizabeth O’Connell spoke of the Foundation and her hopes for what the bench may bring to the Academy.

“May all who find companionship here continue to spread the mission of the foundation – all you need is love to make the world a better place,” O’Connell said. “For many days to come and for all acts of kindness and the friends made here will keep the spirit of Benjamin in our hearts.”

The royal blue bench adorned with a yellow sunflower was customized and personally designed by the Stangroom family. At the ceremony, Benjamin’s mother noted that the idea behind the bench truly suits the impact he had on the family. “To know Benjamin was to not be lonely, so this bench is very fitting," Alanna said.

At the conclusion of a prayer read by their grandmother, Cathy, Benjamin’s sisters attached the final piece of the bench, a charcoal colored tiled heart inscribed with the name ‘Benjamin.’

The Stangroom family supports Hayden’s House of Healing, a non-profit retreat center for families with child loss. To help raise money for Hayden’s House of Healing in Benjamin’s name, visit For more information on Buddy Benches and how to get involved, refer to