Pulling Up Peacefully

By Haley Burton

October 23, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 4:13 PM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Owego-Apalachin school district implements a new program to create a safe and peaceful environment on the bus.

Nearly 400 students ride the bus from Owego to Endicott's Linnaeus West every day for school. Owego Elementary was flooded in September 2011 and sustained major damage. The building has been closed since.

Some students are on the bus for nearly two hours each day total to get to school. Partially as a result, the district has implemented the "Peaceful Bus Program" to encourage appropriate bus behavior.

The program works with students on promoting safe and appropriate bus behavior. It also teaches students to look out for others. Students are asked to keep their hands to themselves, whisper to friends and be kind to others.

"It used to be where people were jumping seats, taking things away from each other. Ever since Peaceful Bus program, it's been calm, kids are sitting down in their seats, leaving each other alone," said Emma Coney, Fourth Grade.

The district met with bus drivers and teachers last week to talk about the program. They will meet two other times during the school year.

"There are always issues on a school bus. They increased slightly last year but we have longer bus routes. We have much more children on the buses... We wanted to work on it to see if there are ways we can help to keep themselves amused and entertained without bothering each other," said Laurie McKeveny, Principal.

"I know our kids have a very long bus ride and they've been through a lot the last year or so with the flood. Knowing that and bringing it back to them that people are what matters, caring for each other and helping each other out," said Darlene Morris, Fourth Grade Teacher, "I think the kids are receiving this well. They are more purposeful and mindful and watching out for each other, making the better choices and doing the right thing."

There are fifteen bus drivers for Owego Elementary. McKeveny says the bus drivers met with the students to go over bus safety drills. She says this program has also increased the communication between teachers and school bus drivers so students know exactly the behavior that is expected of them in the classroom is the same that is expected on the bus.

The Owego Elementary students will be at Linnaeus West for two more school years. The school district is in the early phases of planning to build a new elementary school in Owego. It is scheduled to be open by Fall 2014.