BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 17) – Everyone knows about Santa’s Christmas Eve journey with reindeer, but Weakley County Schools’ students learned last week that the bearded jolly man also gets around by school bus.
Or maybe it was a reindeer that just resembled a bus?
Either way, primary and elementary students at Sharon, Greenfield, Gleason, Martin and Dresden were treated to a walk-through Santa Land experience, courtesy of the efforts of a group of very dedicated bus drivers and mechanics.
“We wanted to do something special since we weren’t able to interact with the students in the usual way,” said WCS Transportation Director Ron Byington of the decision to transform a school bus into a blinking, colored-light-filled “Santa Land,” sporting a red nose and carrying not only the big guy, but a Christmas tree and blow-up reindeer and snowman.
Helping Byington transform the vehicle were Donnie Gearin, Stanley Tims, Will Gamble, Faye Phillips, Chassidy Byington and Mark Byington who also served as Santa’s chauffeur. Phillips, Norma Redden and Chassidy Byington served as elves.
With COVID-19 precautions prohibiting some of the usual “parties on the bus” that bus drivers and students have enjoyed for previous Christmas celebrations, Byington and a small team removed seats and decorated the school bus so that it could go on a tour of schools the last week before winter break.
Children entered from the back exit, spoke with Santa who treated them to a candy cane and then exited from the front.
“This is the outside the box thinking we needed this year,” said Jeff Cupples, principal of Greenfield School, the second stop on the traveling wonderland’s journey.
“What Ron and his team have done is show that we can continue to offer our children fun-filled experiences but safely,” said Randy Frazier, director of Weakley County Schools. “We know that wearing masks and staying apart help keep our quarantine numbers low so we hope that families will follow our bus drivers’ example and find ways to enjoy the days ahead so we can come back strong in January.”