Students show appreciation for bus drivers

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Local students showed appreciation for their bus drivers Feb. 22, Minnesota's first-ever Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

Pinecrest Elementary School students made banners that thanked their bus drivers for keeping them safe and driving them to and from school. The students lined up along the sidewalk and held the banners up for the drivers to see.

Paul Bakker, principal at Pinecrest, said that it was a great opportunity for the students to show their appreciation in a real authentic way. All the students had an opportunity to sign the banners during art class. At the end of the day, they all lined up outside and waited for the buses to arrive.

St. John the Baptist School also participated in showing their appreciation by making cards. Maria Therres, the second-grade teacher at St. John's, said that the students thanked their bus drivers when they got on the buses and the second-graders made cards to give to the drivers.

"Our bus drivers, Chris, Lou, Denise and Vick, have served our school for many years and we appreciate all they do to keep (students) safe," Therres said.

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association and Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation teamed up to create School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Gov. Mark Dayton declared Feb. 22 as the first-ever statewide celebration of School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota. The school bus driving industry is the largest form of mass transit in Minnesota. There are rigorous safety standards for vehicles and drivers and student training efforts that are in place to keep students safe.

"We are so grateful for school bus drivers who realize that nothing is more important than our children's safety," said Mona Dohman, Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner.

The day was also celebrated at the Hastings Bus Company, which provides bus service for Hastings schools. Drivers and aides all received a thank-you gift and were treated to donuts in the morning and pizza at lunch. The company's front door was also decorated with a large thank-you banner for the day.