School board helps first riders get on the bus

·2 min read

The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) understands that “riding the bus for the first time can be both a scary and exciting experience” for the little ones, which is why the board puts on its First Riders program each August.

The program has run since 2012 and is put on in collaboration with the Nipissing-Parry Sound Student Transportation Services (NPSSTS). Anna Leppinen is a safety officer with the Transportation Services. She explained in a recent release issued by the NNDSB that the purpose of the program is to introduce students to the school bus and explain the rules of riding.

“It’s a wonderful introduction to how to ride the school bus safely,” she noted. Students watch a school bus safety video and receive a lesson on the rules of the school bus, all in preparation for the big event—boarding a school bus. Yes, once the preliminary lessons are complete, the kids “have the opportunity to ride on a school bus for the first time.”

Students line up at mock bus stops and “safely board the bus as it makes the rounds” around the parking lot, which helps prepare these first riders for their big ride in September. And it’s not only the first riders who get schooled, parents too are kept abreast of all the bus related happenings, including what the procedures are for delays and cancellations, arranging pick-up and drop-off locations, and “the process for locating a misplaced student and student behaviour management.”

The NNDSB noted that parent Logane White was quite happy with the program. Her daughter Hali “had never been on a school bus and was nervous about riding for the first time,”—a prime First Rider candidate indeed. “We thought this was a great opportunity for her,” White explained.

“She loved learning and asking questions,” White added, and overall, that first ride was one to remember. Not only that, but NPSSTS also gave out a colouring page and a magnet to participating kids, both of which “were a hit” with little Hali.

The ride, the gifts, and the safety video “really allowed her to have the full experience,” White said, and she’s glad the program was provided to help quell the nerves of the region’s children. “This helps ease the parent’s mind and the children’s mind on that first day of school,” White added.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca