Students' poppies decorate Powassan school bus

·3 min read

John Muma's school bus looks a little different this week as he drives students to and from school in Powassan.

His bus has been decorated with poppies made by Mapleridge Public School and St. Gregory Catholic Elementary School students.

Muma, who lives in Nipissing Township and drives for East Ferris Bus Lines, came up with the idea because so many communities are holding low-key Remembrance Day ceremonies because of COVID-19.

“A lot of things have been different this year so I thought I'd ask the kids if they would make the poppies and I would tape them to the school bus windows,” Muma says.

The JK-to-Grade 8 students from both schools responded enthusiastically.

The poppies range in size from 10 inches in diameter to about three inches.

“I put five of them across the top of the windshield, the back has a mini poster and along the sides where the kids sit the windows also have poppies,” Muma says.

The poppies on the windshield are placed in a way that doesn't block his vision, he adds.

When Muma asked the students if they would make the poppies he didn't make any suggestions and left the end result entirely up to them.

“Some were drawn on white paper with many red scribbles on them and a black dot in the centre, some were done on red paper with a black dot and others look like they were printed off the internet,” Muma says.

What's more, some of the poppies and mini posters have inscriptions on them like “We remember” and “Lest We Forget.”

Muma says he got a good feeling the students responded in the numbers they did and that some went so far as to inscribe words on the drawings.

Muma says he's expecting more poppies to come in this week and he intends to keep them on the bus not only during Remembrance Day week but also next week.

“Some of the kids I pick up every second week so I want them to see that I hung up the poppies they made,” he says.

When the students began returning to school this week and saw the poppies on the windows, needless to say they were excited.

Muma says this is especially true of the younger students who saw the poppies they made.

Muma acknowledges that perhaps the older students didn't show their excitement as much, but adds they exhibited some pride in their work.

Muma is known for finding ways to decorate his school bus for the students.

When Christmas draws near, he has Christmas-themed decorations up.

Halloween also is a time he will decorate the bus and says this year he “went overboard” with decorations because the pandemic curtailed many Halloween activities.

This is the first time he's decorated a school bus with a Remembrance Day theme.

As for what to do with the poppies after next week, Muma says if the students who made the poppies want them back, he'll make that happen.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget