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Watching the bus pull away
February 18, 2009 - Per Peterson
One year later, I still don’t look at school buses the same. They’re still big. They’re still that unidentifiable color, somewhere between orange and yellow, with bold, black lettering. And they still all pretty much make the same sound when they pull away from a stop. But I don’t look at them the same. Every time my kids leave the house in the morning, I look out the kitchen window to watch them leave, burdened by a backpack that you’d swear weighs more than they do. Then I see the big, orangish-yellow bus pull up. Its doors fold open and the kids climb the steps and go take a seat. A few seconds later, they’re gone. But only for a few hours. We assume they’ll be back later that afternoon, another day of school under their belts. But a year ago, a group of four Lakeview students didn’t come back. The bus they were riding in like they did every day was blindsided by a mini-van, knocked over onto a truck. Four students, four little kids, didn’t get to go home that day. They went to heaven instead. That’s why I’ll never again look at a school bus the same way. As parents, we assume our children will be safe once they get on that big orangish-yellow bus. And most of the time they are. We assume they’ll be safe at school all day long. And most of the time they are. We assume when the school day ends, they’ll reunite with that big orangish-yellow bus, get on it and return to their homes. And most of the time they do. But a year ago today, that seed of doubt was planted in the minds of all parents around these parts. The bus that was involved in last year’s crash was just another bus, like the thousands of others that rumble down our city streets and county roads every day a few months out of the year. It was big, it was orange, or yellow, or whatever. It sounded like every other school bus. But I don’t look at them the same as I used to. Never will.
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