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Buster the Bus Pays Visit to West Liberty Elementary School

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Schools bus driver Renee Ellis stands alongside West Liberty Elementary School student Kinzey Murphy during a lesson with Buster, the school bus safety bus. Buster appeared at West Liberty Elementary Tuesday as part of School Bus Safety Week activities.

He was in the garage for more than a year, but “Buster” the school safety bus is back and emerged Tuesday for a stop at West Liberty Elementary School.

This week is School Bus Safety Week, and Buster’s job is to transport knowledge of school bus safety to young Ohio County students.

A team of five school bus drivers accompanies the remote control bus to the schools. Buster appears to talk with the students and know their names, but across the gym out of view sits one of the team members with a microphone. The team member is able to see and hear the students through Buster’s technology.

Another team member, meanwhile, discreetly holds a remote control that makes the bus move, bat its eyes, and flash its lights. Buster will even do a wheelie when prompted.

Ohio County Schools has been using Buster to educate students about school bus safety for more than 20 years, and three different buses have been utilized during the time, according to team member Rick Ray. The current Buster was purchased last year, but didn’t make it out of his garage as students weren’t in school or couldn’t gather together for events because of COVID, he said.

The event on Tuesday was Buster’s first since 2019, and he even wore a mask across his pretend front grill.

“We teach them the proper protocol on how to get on and off the bus, and how to act when riding the bus, as well,” explained team member Jessica Shunk. “It’s all about safety and having fun. Some of these kids don’t ride a bus until they go on a field trip, and this gives them an idea of what to expect.”

Shunk and fellow bus driver Renee Ellis interacted with Buster during the school bus safety lesson. Among those attending were pre-kindergarten through second grade students.

Shunk and Ellis explained to the students school buses were painted yellow and had flashing lights so they could be easily seen. They also termed the wheels “danger zones,” and students were instructed to stay back at least 10 feet.

They walked out the distance placing one foot in front of the other for the young students to visualize.

In addition to Ray, Shunk and Ellis, other team members included Paul Hengler and Dave Palmer.

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