By Patricia Beech –
The second annual School Bus Drivers Christmas Luncheon was held on Friday, Dec. 15 at the Ohio Valley School District (OVSD) bus facility in Peebles.
OVSD Transportation Supervisor, Larry Bennington said the event is one of the few times all the district’s bus drivers come together as a group during the school year.
“It gives them a chance to fellowship,” he said. “They talk about work, catch up on the news, and meet all the new people.”
Ohio Valley School Board member Charlie Bess called the event an opportunity for the district board members to express their thanks. Praising the bus drivers as positive role models, she pointed out that they are the “first people our kids see at the beginning of their school day, and the last they see at the end”.
“Greeting a child with a smile might seem like a small thing,” she said. “But, for some children, that might be the first and last smile they see all day.”
Driving 40-foot long, 12-ton vehicles over rural roadways, OVSD bus drivers spend far longer periods of time transporting students each day than their counterparts do in suburban areas.
The Ohio Valley district is the second largest in the state of Ohio. Driving 45 bus routes and six special needs bus routes over a 487 square-mile area, OVSD bus drivers travel nearly 4,000 miles every day to provide transportation services to K-12 students and some preschool students.
“Most people don’t realize that these buses travel a lot of miles across the county every day,” said Bess, who also acknowledged the efforts of the bus garage mechanics.
“There’s also a lot of upkeep and maintenance involved in keeping our them highway ready, and we have a great crew in this building who take care of the buses, maintain them, and keep them safe for the kids,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes on in this building that is important to a school day.”
In addition to the luncheon, the bus drivers also held a Toy Drive for area children.
“The administration and staff at the schools provided us with students’ names and needs,” said Bennington, who explained that the toys go to a different OVSD elementary school each year. This year they will be gifted to students at Peebles Elementary.
“Everyone steps up to help out, especially this time of year,” said Bennington. “We all want to make sure our local children have a happy Christmas.”