ANAHEIM, Calif. — On Dec. 21, school bus drivers and mechanics from around the state gathered with family and friends at the Anaheim Convention Center for a celebration in their honor.
Pamela McDonald, transportation director at Orange (Calif.) Unified School District, organized the School Bus Drivers and School Bus Mechanics Appreciation Night in tandem with staff of the Anaheim Arsenal, an NBA development league team.
“Shu [Shulmith Muthyala, Arsenal account executive] called and said he wanted to organize a bus driver appreciation night,” explained McDonald, “but when we met to discuss the details, I felt that all California school bus drivers and mechanics should be recognized.”
Approximately 150 attendees watched a basketball game featuring the Arsenal and the Colorado 14ers. Drivers and mechanics were called onto the court to be recognized during halftime. Attendees also received gifts from the event’s sponsors. “A-Z Bus Sales distributed yellow wristbands that read ‘School Bus Drivers and Mechanics Lead the Way,’ and BusWest donated 50 squeeze buses that [were thrown to] audience members during the game’s first quarter,” McDonald said. Other sponsors passed out pizza slices and sandwiches.
McDonald felt that the night was a success and was enthusiastic about the prospect of holding more in the future. “We had a great turnout,” she said. “Shu said that the president of the Arsenal would like to organize another event because we generated one of the largest crowds the team has played for.”
She also noted that a representative from Southland Transportation Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta, contacted her after hearing about the event and is interested in organizing a similar appreciation night for the company’s school bus drivers and mechanics. “I’ve spoken with Shu and he’s planning to see if there are people in Canada who would be able to help Southland Transportation,” said McDonald. “It’s exciting that news of our event has spread to Canada.”