Starting in the early hours this morning, students at Vancouver Technical School handed out hot chocolate to bus drivers as part of their 15th annual Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Every year on the last day of school before Christmas holidays, the students make hot chocolate and serve it to bus operators as they pull up at their stop on Broadway outside the school.
The event was the brainchild of Rod McNeill, a now-retired geography teacher, who noticed that transit plays a particularly important role in the lives of Vancouver Tech students. The school has an odd catchment area – students tend to live along the Broadway corridor from Boundary to Main and a lot of them take the bus to get to school (it’s not unusual to see a full bus roll up and drop off 40 or 50 students at a time). So Rod pitched the idea of students doing something to show their appreciation for bus operators, and Bus Driver Appreciation Day was born. Rod is now retired, but Terry Stanway, another teacher at the school, is the new teacher-sponsor continuing the tradition.
The students arrived at 6 a.m. and started boiling water for hot chocolate. There was initially a bit of panic because a power outage in the area last night knocked out the school’s power and, when it came back up, the boiler switched on and blew a circuit breaker. The students had to heat the water in pots on the gas range in the school’s cafeteria kitchen. By 7:30, the hot chocolate was ready and the kids started handing out the goodies in Vancouver Tech mugs, while serenading the operators with Christmas songs.
What a great event! Thanks to the Vancouver Technical students who keep this annual event going to show their appreciation to the bus operators who get them to school each day.
And, although I’m not a student of Vancouver Tech, I’m going to take this opportunity to give a shout out to the operator of the #20 bus on the afternoon of December 1st: You waited for me at my stop until the light changed and I could walk safely across the street to board – thanks for making my day!