Kids learn bus safety practices
Published 7:00 am Friday, September 4, 2015
Thursday, fifth grade students from Pearl River Central Upper Elementary had a hoot of a good time learning about bus safety from the district’s transportation employees and SOAR mascot Hootie the Owl.
The annual program is designed to teach students proper bus safety techniques, Pearl River County School District Transportation Director Lisa Beech said. SOAR stands for safe, orderly and respectful conduct while riding school buses.
The program began last week with children from the lower elementary and ended Thursday with fifth graders, Beech said.
Students participated in three different activities on the buses. On the first, students learned about loading and unloading safety procedures. While inside the second bus, students learned proper safety positions and how to evacuate the bus in the event of an emergency.
While visiting the last bus, students received a review of all procedures discussed during the program.
However, this year, officials added a new feature, Beech said.
“We built a car in order to demonstrate a car passing when the bus’ stop sign is out,” she said. “Students pretended to cross the street and we pushed the car. They learned that they have to look at the bus driver for signals and listen for the horn. We added the car this year to get a more obvious training.”
Lower Elementary Assistant Principal Jennifer Teal said the children loved the program.
“They really benefited from the drills,” Teal said. “It’s very informative, especially for the little ones who are just now learning how to ride the bus.”
Beech said that since the program’s inception four years ago, bus drivers have seen a big difference in the children’s behavior.
Upper Elementary Assistant Principal Vol White said the SOAR program provides tremendous preventative maintenance regarding bus safety.
“Buses used to be the biggest contributor to discipline problems,” White said. “The introduction to bus safety, rules and expectations is valuable.”
Beech said the transportation department went a step further this year with regard to safety and rerouted the buses during the morning and evenings on busy roads. Children are dropped off on the right side of the road, unless there’s a parent to walk them across the street, she said.
Fifth grader Jaelyn Dillard said she rides the bus to school regularly.
“Today I learned that you have to sit on your butt and scoot when you jump out of the bus when there’s an emergency,” Dillard said. “It’s important to listen to the driver so you know when there’s an emergency.”
Ten-year-old Destin Coleman has ridden a bus since he was in the second grade.
“They taught us not to put our hand out the window if the window is open,” Coleman said. “I listen to my bus driver so when they say something important, I’ll know.”
Slade Malcolm rides the bus in the evenings and learned the scoot-out-the-back technique during Thursday’s event.
“It’s important to learn bus safety because if an accident happens you’ll be safe and not die,” Malcolm said. “You should always stay 40 steps away from the bus so the driver can see you at all times.”
Mackenzie Smith said she rides the bus to school sometimes in the mornings and during field trips.
“I learned how to evacuate the bus in an emergency and that you always have to use the handrails when getting off and on the bus,” she said. “You could get hurt if you don’t follow the rules.”