Busing program provides rides for students in extracurriculars
Principal Robert Natale signs out students before releasing them Nov. 28 to board buses at Hawthorn Middle School South. The school has created an afterschool activity bus service to allow more students to participate in sports and clubs. | Brian O'Mahone
Updated: December 6, 2012 3:06PM
Hawthorn Middle School District 73 students have been given the gift of wheels.
Since late September both the Hawthorn Middle School North and South campuses have offered activity buses to transport students home from after-school activities.
District 73 Superintendent Nick Brown said the request was brought to him by school principals from the district’s middle schools who saw the need for the alternative transportation method. Classes dismiss at 2:10 p.m. daily and after-school activities end about 4 p.m. which Brown said can be a difficult pick-up time for working parents.
“We really wanted to engage the children and encourage them to get involved in after-school programs,” said Brown. “There is a slight cost involved but it’s a good investment and within our budget.”
Hawthorn Middle School South Principal Rob Natale said the new transportation option is a great relief for parents and a sort of savior for students.
“This has been able to help a whole population of students with working parents that weren’t able to have access to these programs,” Natale said. “Extracurricular activities such as clubs and sports can improve students’ school performance.”
Sign-up is required to ride the buses, which hold between 60-65 students. Passes can be obtained for seasonal or sporadic use. Buses depart at 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The drop-off route is determined by the home locations of students signed up for the service. All riders are dropped off within a two-block walking distance of their final destination and attendance is taken before each bus embarks from the school grounds.
Now in its second of four seasons, the activity bus for Hawthorn Middle School North has seen a nearly 50 percent increase in riders since its first season. A fencing club has been introduced due to demand from the newly available transportation.
Natale said he too has seen an increase of riders at his campus up 35 percent since the initial season.
“Our art and tech clubs have had an A and B meeting day added to accommodate the increased population of students interested,” Natale said.
Both principals said the activity bus is still in the implementation stage but they both agree it’s a great service that will continue to grow in popularity.
“The use of the activity bus has continued to grow,” said Collins. “We’ve received a positive response from parents and the kids are very excited about it.”