At Knapp Elementary School, we employ the Peaceful Bus Programto keep all kids safe on our school buses. The following is an article written about the program during our 2011 kick-off. For more information, here's a recent Parent-Teacher Twitter Chat on the Peaceful Program with program author Jim Dillon.

Knapp Elementary students learn what it takes to ride a Peaceful Bus
Thursday, October 20,2011
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Youngsters clap their hands while participating in the Peaceful Bus anti-bullying program at Knapp Elementary School. Photo by Geoff Patton

LANSDALE -- Getting kids on board for responsible behavior was the goal of the Peaceful Bus program that Knapp Elementary School began Thursday.

The program, an off-shoot of the Olweus Anti-Bullying program already used by the North Penn School District, aims at curbing bad behavior on school buses and at bus stops that could lead to dangerous situations. "The goal is to bridge the rules of the school to the school bus," said Principal Joe Mazza. "Everyone is staying safe. No one is bullying each other and the kids are safe. "It's important," Mazza added. "A kid has a bad morning and gets bullied at on the bus, it'll affect him all day. This is one of the things we feel can help."

As part of the Olweus program, the students filled out surveys that revealed their biggest problems with other students' behavior comes during their school bus ride.

The students at Knapp broke into groups based on which bus they ride. In the gym, physical education teacher Barry Sayer led students who take Bus 73 through exercises designed to let them know that they needed to obey their bus driver Mary "Miss Mary" DiMartino, the same way they would listen to their teacher. DiMartino also took a turn leading the group.

"It's a wonderful idea," said Marianne Cleary, coordinator of transportation for the North Penn School District. While the district has always stressed safety, the Peaceful Bus program, which will be adopted throughout the district, "takes it to the next level." "This is the first rollout and we're really excited," said Cleary. "The buses are full and when you have that many children in close proximity it can lead to unsafe behavior."
The district wants to discourage things like bullying, pushing or putting their hands out the window, she said. She noted that the bus driver is facing front and not looking at the children but is responsible for their safety. "We've always had the philosophy in North Penn that the school bus is an extension of the classroom," Cleary said.

Tori Rubbo, a guidance counselor at Knapp, said the Peaceful Bus program "gives the kids the opportunity to get to know each other and the driver. The more they know somebody, the less likely they are to treat them with disrespect or unkindly." The school had a "dry run" of the program last spring and had "positive feedback,"from students, parents, teachers and bus drivers, she said.