High Point, NC (February 21, 2014) – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx spoke today to a room of more than 200 elementary school students at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, NC about being safe school bus passengers and thanking their bus drivers at the American School Bus Council’s Love the Bus Main Event.
Despite at times heavy rain, Secretary Foxx arrived to a scene of festive balloons and excited students eager to show off their love of the school bus. Once indoors, the Secretary was joined on stage by U.S. Congressman Howard Coble, the Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of School Improvement Grants Carlas McCauley, Guilford County (NC) Schools Superintendent Mo Green, and High Point Mayor Bernita Sims.
Despite the impressive array of officials, the highlight of Love the Bus was a series of performances by Oak Hill students. Secretary Foxx was serenaded by school bus themed cheers from Oak Hill’s cheerleaders as he walked through the school’s halls that were decorated with school bus murals courtesy of Oak Hill art classes. Then, as part of the program itself, a group of first grade students wearing school bus yellow “I Love the Bus!” t-shirts enthusiastically acted out an interpretation of the popular children’s book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and a group of fourth and fifth grade students, who also wore the shirts, played a song on their recorders.
Love the Bus, which began in 2007 and is held every February, is a month-long celebration of the importance of the iconic yellow school bus, and includes events at schools, school bus yards, and other locations around the country. It raises awareness and appreciation for the experience of riding the school bus to and from school, as well as the diverse set of individuals whose daily efforts make the yellow school bus what it is today. Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have shown that school buses are the safest mode of transportation to and from school for children, and that every school bus takes approximately 36 cars off the road every morning and afternoon.
Each Love the Bus speaker made a concerted effort to thank the bus drivers for all they do. Secretary Foxx said, “I was a kid who rode a school bus and I know how much of an impression the school bus drivers made on me." Guilford County Superintendent Mo Green added that “Bus drivers form a connection between home and school, not just through the physical roads they travel, but by helping encourage students to make good choices both at school and at home.” Carlas McCauley echoed those sentiments and asked bus drivers in attendance to stand for an ovation. Congressman Coble, who is retiring this year, talked about the constant and safe role school buses have played in society throughout his life. And Mayor Sims announced a proclamation declaring February 21, 2014 Love the Bus Day in High Point.
ASBC chose Oak Hill as the location for the 2014 Love the Bus Main Event not just because at approximately 80% ridership, the school’s students are heavily reliant upon the school bus for their transportation to and from school. In addition, Oak Hill is a tremendous success story having transformed itself from consistently rating as one of the lowest performing Title 1 elementary schools in North Carolina to earning the honor of being the highest performing Title 1 school in North Carolina for the 2012-2013 school year. Oak Hill’s turnaround was bolstered by a 2010 Federal School Improvement Grant, as well as a concerted effort from the community (including Thomas Built Buses, which is also headquartered in High Point) to engage the hearts and minds of a student body where 99% of students are eligible for a free or reduced lunch, a large percentage of students come from single-parent homes, more than 50% of students speak a language other than English (18 languages represented), and the enrollment area is classified as a food desert.
For more information about other Love the Bus events around the country or for assistance with planning additional events or procuring American School Bus Council marketing materials, interested individuals are asked to contact ASBC at 866-955-2722, or visit www.americanschoolbuscouncil.com. ASBC can also be found at Facebook.com/LoveTheBus and Twitter.com/WeLoveTheBus.
ASBC is a coalition of public and private transportation providers, school bus manufacturers and state officials responsible for pupil transportation. The Council’s members include NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation), NASDPTS (National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services), NSTA (National School Transportation Association), Blue Bird Corp. of Fort Valley, Ga., IC Corporation of Lisle, Ill., and Thomas Built Buses of High Point, N.C.