Hilliard Northwest News

First-time riders test-drive procedures for taking the bus

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Ella Detling waves to her father, Tim, during the First-Time Riders school bus program Aug. 9 at Heritage Middle School. Ella will begin kindergarten Aug. 19 at Britton Elementary School.

Hilliard kindergartners and other students who will ride a school bus for the first time Aug. 19 had the opportunity for a little practice at the First-Time Riders open house Aug. 9 at Heritage Middle School.

"(The First-Time Riders event) is to acclimate our students and even our parents with the process of riding a bus to school (and) to overcome some of that apprehension before the first day of school," said Randy Snyder, the district's new transportation coordinator hired in May.

First-Time Riders is an idea he brought to Hilliard from his past post as the transportation and logistics-management administrator for Westerville City Schools.

He implemented the program there about five years ago.

"A few parents were coming to our garage (before the first day of school) and asking, 'Hey, can we see one of the buses,' ... and I thought, 'We're missing an opportunity here,'" Snyder said.

The program expanded from allowing children to take a look at a school bus to a hands-on approach that concludes with children and parents riding a bus.

From 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 9, bus drivers and other employees of the transportation department showcased buses in Heritage's parking lot.

In addition to boarding and disembarking, drivers explained emergency exits, bus numbers, routes and the probability of substitute drivers.

Students could view the engine of the bus and even learn about the history, manufacture and performance of school buses.

Papers attached to the outside of the buses explained the historical selection of yellow as the universal color of school buses in the United States, the horsepower of the motor, fuel consumption, brake components and other scientific tidbits.

Snyder said First-Time Riders is as much for parents as for children.

"It's also meant be one of those milestones for families, providing parents a chance to experience that first bus ride with their children," Snyder said.

Brooke Sessor brought her first-grade daughter, Mya, and her third-grade son, Drew, to First-Time Riders.

"It's wonderful," Sessor said. "They never rode a bus before and I think it helped with (my children's) nerves a lot."

The family recently moved into a walk zone, Sessor said.

Tim Detling took his daughter, Ella, to the event.

"I think this gave (Ella) the experience she needed. (Kindergarten) is a big transition for her," Detling said.