Friday, January 27, 2023
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Gallery: Transportation Departments Celebrate Holiday Spirit

Across the nation, transportation leaders decorated school buses and/or their transportation facilities for either community parades, or to spread holiday cheer to the students that ride the bus.

For instance, school buses at Oak Hill School in Tennessee have overhead luggage racks. The school bus drivers ensure each child has a stocking with their names that hang from the luggage racks, along with lights, Jeffery Flatt, the fleet manager and routing specialist, explained.

Each student at Oak Hill School in Tennessee has a stocking with their name on it.

He added that this year’s theme was Grinchmas Christmas complete with a Grinch and Max blow-up dolls that sit in the school bus. Flatt added that because they are a private school, they have a little more freedom to decorate school buses.

Norma Jackman, the transportation director at RSU 73 in Maine, added that she decorated the office and hosted a holiday party for their drivers and technician staff to celebrate employees during this time.

Jarnik Buses Inc., a locally managed company that provides transportation to students in Northwest Missouri, celebrated the holiday season by adopting a local family or organization to collect gifts for. Glenda Brown, the Missouri area general manager for the company, said each of the company’s 12 locations participated. “Along with that the company is adding $100.00 to what each location collects for their family,” she said.

One of their drivers, who is new to the industry, received a “#1 Bus Driver” coffee mug from one of the students.“This truly means a lot to him, as he was nervous about driving a school bus and how different it would be,” Brown said. “I believe and life proves that when you send [positivity] out into your communities, it is returned to you. I hope that we can continue to make a difference in each and every one of our communities for many years to come.”

School bus driver Jack for Jarnik Buses holds his coffee mug from a student.

Meanwhile, Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida had a decorating contest consisting of five categories held at all seven bus compounds. Kim Frye, director of transportation, said the categories included: Best Holiday Window, Door, Cubicle, Office, and breakroom.

Wendy Vaughn, the transportation director for Jones County School System in Georgia, said her department decorates the front lot, which consists of putting up 45-foot and a 22-foot Christmas trees, as well as a drive-through tunnel with holiday music and lights up everywhere.

“On the evening of the last day of school for Christmas Break, we have a festival,” Vaughn said. “We invite our school chorus to come and sing for 30 minutes, have vendors selling arts and crafts for those last-minute Christmas gifts, and food trucks. It is a fundraiser for our department and the staff helps out with the face painting, cookie decorating, supervising the inflatables, hayride through the lights, and selling hot chocolate and hot apple cider. We also have a silent auction. it is a great way to jump-start the Christmas spirit.”

Hendrick Hudson School District in New York decorated the staff room with trees, snowmen and twinkling lights. Transportation Supervisor Elizabeth Gilleo said the department was provided with coffee breaks, a hot chocolate bar, and holiday treats.

Scott Bohl, the operations and policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Education told STN that districts and local operations love to celebrate, so most districts will have something decorated, whether that’s buses or their buildings.

Noblesville Schools employees in Indiana spread holiday cheer throughout the office. Trish Byrd, transportation of special needs coordinator, said the school bus drivers conduct a table decorating contest in the driver lounge. “We also did an angel tree and provided Christmas for eight families in our district,” she said. “We have also collected for our local food drive that feeds students in our district, they send a bag home with students every Friday. Our staff has the opportunity to join in a secret Santa gift exchange during the month of December. Then the last week before break we have a Holiday pitch in, with 150 staff members, we get some amazing food.”

Noblesville Schools in Indiana had a table decorating contest in the driver’s lounge. (Photo courtesy of Trish Byrd, transportation special needs coordinator.)

Meanwhile, Michael Comstock, the location manager for First Student in Wisconsin, said the school bus company transports more than students. “We are a partner with the district and a part of the Community, but the best part of the holiday season is Christmas morning when we load up Santa’s sleigh (a school bus) with Santa’s elves (school bus drivers) and distribute over 500 presents unannounced to the boys and girls of the community,” he said. “We believe in the spirit and the magic the Holiday Season brings.”

School Transportation News asked for pictures of decorated school buses and transportation departments, and images of how the district is celebrating the holiday. The following photos were submitted. Some school districts shared with STN they are not allowed to decorate school buses due to state regulations.

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