This powerful essay was a 2010 winner of the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association's Joe Beaton Memorial Scholarship. Corliss and another student each earned $1,000 for college.
School transportation is a very important thing to many people. As a child, I rode the bus to and from school; otherwise, I would have to walk to school.
Many parents either do not have the time to bring their children to school or they do not have the option. My parents were never able to bring me to school because they did not want to. I had to walk to the bus stop almost a mile away so I could get to school every day. They would not bring me.
Most children think of school transportation as a right, but it is a privilege. They also do not think of it as important. They do not think about how they would get to school otherwise. They do not think that taking the bus is a good thing. Most kids do not like taking the bus because it seems "uncool."
I rode the bus until my senior year. I thought it was great, because who wants to walk outside in 30-below weather?
When I first moved to Hibbing [Minn.] High School, I had no friends. I didn't know anyone in my classes, and I knew I wouldn't know anyone on my bus.
My godparents were a huge — and I mean huge — part of my life while I was growing up. They were there for everything. Before they were my godparents, they were my foster parents.
My twin sister and I were taken from my mother when we were only 6 months old. I thank God that we were given to Lyn and Pete Andrican. I truly believe they are the reason that I have succeeded so far in my life.
About every other weekend, my sister and I would visit Lyn and Pete at their house or cabin. They would buy us school supplies and school clothes. They would buy us groceries and anything else that we needed at my parents'.
Both of my parents were not good people at this time. They were into drugs and who knows what else. Lyn and Pete did everything they could to help us.
One time after a regular visit, Pete told us to behave, like he always did. It was normal for him to say this to us, but this one day my dad must have been really upset. He got angry that Pete told us to behave. He told them that they were not our parents, and they were no longer allowed to see us.
This was very heartbreaking for my sister and me. We did not see them for four years after that.
As I said before, I knew I wouldn't know anyone on my bus, and after school that day as I was walking to the bus, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be just crazy if Pete were my bus driver?
I knew he wouldn't have been, and I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up, but as I was walking to the bus, I looked at the driver, just to see if it just might be him. I wasn't sure if I was just seeing what I wished I would see, or if I was actually seeing it.
As I was walking, I knew it, and I started to cry. I smiled, and I cried. It was actually him. Pete was my bus driver. It was the best day of my life. Even though he didn't recognize me at first, it was still the best day of my life.
Most kids don't like taking the bus because it isn't cool, but I loved taking the bus, because I got to see the most important person in my life every day, and that, to me, is pretty cool.
School transportation made a difference in my life. Not only was I able to get to and from school every day, I was able to reconnect with a loved one.
The bus ride was always my favorite part of the day, even when I went to other schools. It was a time to catch up with my friends and have a good ride home.
It became a time to catch up with my godfather and make some plans with him. I'm currently living with my godparents, and I can thank school transportation for that.