Baldwin students thank bus drivers
Teonia Johnson was greeted with lots of smiles and surprised reactions on a Friday morning this month as she stepped onto the school bus and handed the driver a gift.
“Thank you,” one driver said with a big smile across her face.
“What is this?” another driver asked, with a confused look that quickly turned to a smile.
As students departed their buses at Baldwin High School, members of the school's activities committee boarded each bus to give the drivers a handwritten card and doughnut in an effort to say “thank you.”
“We realize they go through a lot in a day. They have to keep us controlled and they get us to and from school each day,” said Baldwin sophomore Olivia Przywara, 16. “They're always there to keep us safe.”
That's why members of the activities committee, formed last year in an effort to boost school spirit, decided to hold “Bus Driver Appreciation Day.”
The students came up with the idea and executed the plan for the day themselves, said Chris Reilsono, 10th-grade world history teacher and activities club coordinator. The doughnuts were donated by an person who wishes to remain anonymous, he said.
“They wanted to do this,” Reilsono said. “We have a lot of generally good kids here. I'm a high school teacher and I still get Christmas cards every year.”
Committee members hand wrote messages to the bus drivers and individually decorated the cards.
That meant a lot to the bus drivers.
“It makes you feel so good,” said Paul Hocheneoher, who has been driving a bus to Baldwin High School for 15 years.
Hocheneoher said the card and doughnut made his day. It's something he hasn't seen before in his time on the job. He often hears “thank you” from students as they exit the bus. What makes it even better, is when the kids behave, he said, laughing. They normally do, he said.
“I like to see they think about us during the day,” he said.
A bus driver approached Reilsono to tell him that in 14 years on the job, she had never experienced anything like this.
“It just proves what I already knew, that we have wonderful kids,” Reilsono said.
Hannah Stock, 16, a Baldwin sophomore, said she always makes sure to thank her bus driver when she gets to school. But this was about more than that. It was showing extra appreciation for the safe ride they receive every day even when it's icy or snowing outside, or traffic is hard to maneuver.
“Without them, we would be stranded walking to school every day,” Przywara said. “It kind of made my day. We hope it made their day, too.”
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.