TENNERTON – February is the official month that marks National School Bus Driver Appreciation Month, but members of the Upshur County School System are thankful for their dedicated bus operators each and every day.
School administrators presented bus drivers with Upshur Stars during Tuesday night’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting.
Upshur County Schools Director of Transportation Jodie Akers said each day the Upshur County Schools bus operators safely transport more than 2,200 students to and from school.
“On behalf of the transportation department and Upshur County Schools, we want to say a huge thank you,” Akers said. “Thank you for what you do every single day for our students and for our families. Our school bus drivers have stepped up in remarkable ways to serve Upshur County students during incredibly challenging times and we are forever grateful for their dedication to our student’s education, safety and well-being.”
Akers said she knows many drivers have been called upon to do so much more and said they each stepped up in many ways and have never compromised the safety and well-being of our children.
“We appreciate our bus drivers and we applaud you for keeping our children safe and for helping to facilitate learning every day,” Akers said. “We join our community in extending our sincere gratitude for all you do every day.”
Bus operators in the Upshur County School System include Randy Carrico, Lindon Stone, Dylan Chidester, Kyle Hilbert, Steve Curtis, Craig Smith, Kyle Linger, Amanda Swift, Amanda Wingfield, Randy Starkey, Shay Woody, Chuck Brown, Cliff Turner, Norman Workman, Jimmie Bailey, Jennifer Ervin, John Cowger, Lee Pappas, Daniel Gregory, Aaron Anderson, Lenny Evans, Rodney Rovello, Len Fumerola, Scott Preston, Dexter Bever, Darrell Gould, Brandon Bailey, Brenda Hyre, Bobby Furr, Chase Woody, Stephen Clark, Rickie Dunlap, Christina Riley, Cathy Grill, Stephen Cutright, Mike Williams, Dion Wamsley, Dillon Johnston, Sam Errett, Steven McIe, Steve Page, Nolan Smallridge, Ronnie Miller, Joe Warner, James Sayer, Steve Long, Tim Cogar, Jim Ours, Bill Groggs, Darrick Gould, Randy Hardman, Butch Lowther, Andrea Lantz, Amy White, Tanner Burns, Mitch Casey and Randal McDaniels. Also recognized were Jodie Akers, director of transportation and Stephanie Bennett, transportation supervisor for Upshur County Schools.
Stankus presented each bus operator with a unique Upshur Star, which was a magnet because she said their offices are very unique. “They are definitely Upshur Stars,” Stankus said.
Bus operator Dexter Bever thanked Stankus and Akers for the Upshur Star magnets.
“These guys and what they do is very special,” Bever said. “I have only been a bus driver for two years and this is my job after I retired and I also teach school now and again. What I can say is I have a newfound appreciation for every one of these guys. If you have never done this job and you were to try it you would see exactly what I am talking about. These guys do not get enough recognition for what they do. The responsibility they have every day includes 100 things going on at one time – not only what is going on in front of them, but what is going on behind them. And they are mentors to the children, too. I would venture to say we have more relationship contacts with the students than what the teachers do.”
Bever said he wanted to offer a shout-out to the bus operators who have been doing their jobs for the last 20 or 30 years.
“I think they deserve a big round of applause,” Bever said. “Thank you all very much.”
Other awards presented during the Tuesday Upshur County Board of Education meeting include:
Rebecca Wilkerson receives an Upshur Star during Tuesday’s BOE meeting for her outstanding artwork. Art instructor Virginia Faulkner Hicks said Rebecca’s picture was completed when she was in sixth grade.
“It was an element of art project coincided with the Chinese New Year,” Hicks wrote. “The head and tail were created using paper collage in the traditional style of Chinese Dragon. It includes elements including line, shape, texture, space and value. Rebecca’s artwork has been on display at the Central Office for the last several years.”
Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said Rebecca’s creation was hard to give up and presented her with an Upshur Star in recognition of her beautiful, colorful Chinese dragon.
Music Instructor Seth Stemple introduced students who represented All-State Choir members at the state level.
“What I love about Upshur County and everything that Mr. Smallridge does where I get to help and assist is fantastic singing,” Stemple said. “This program has launched so many great musicians and I am glad to be a part of it.”
Those recognized as All-State Choir Students include Katie Knight, Tori (Jaden) Bennett, Aleah Carr and Ella McNeish. Those recognized for the West Virginia American Choral Directory’s Association Chamber Choir include Julianna Stark, Kadee Harper and Kobe Hamrick. Those recognized for the West Virginia Music Educator’s Association Choir include Carly Barnes, Emely Tenney, Tori Adams, Julianna Stark, Kobe Hamrick, Ben Currence, Evan Linger and Elijah Carr.
Eliza Taylor, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Band Director introduced John Hayes, II, who is a member of the West Virginia All-State Band. Taylor said Hayes is an exceptional student.
“He auditioned for our WV All-State Band at the high school level,” Taylor said. “He will represent us on the trombone. He is also an inaugural member of the B-UHS Rock Band and the Jazz Band. We are very proud of him.”