NORMAN, Okla. — Norman Public Schools will celebrate the hard work of its bus drivers and monitors at an Oklahoma City Barons hockey game on Sunday as part of Love the Bus month.
"Love the Bus Hockey Night" was the idea of Christy Clemons, assistant director of transportation for Norman Public Schools.
"It's the first year we've done a big event like this," Clemons said in an interview with SBF. Clemons first contacted the Oklahoma City Barons and pitched the idea of honoring the district's drivers and monitors at a game. When she discovered that one of the possible game options would coincide with Love the Bus month, she got the Oklahoma Association for Pupil Transportation (OAPT) on board.
"I talked to the state transportation director," she explained. "He thought it was a great idea, so it kind of went from just being my drivers and monitors here in Norman to trying to get everyone in the state involved — everyone that we can."
The OAPT has since showcased the event on its website and sent out e-mails to districts around the state.
"We're really hoping to get some involvement from the other districts," Clemons said.
In past years, Norman schools have held Love the Bus-themed breakfasts, parties and a chili cook-off, and students have passed out Valentine's Day cards to drivers and spelled out "We love the bus" on a chain-link fence using Styrofoam cups.
This year's event will take place at the Barons' game against the San Antonio Rampage at the Cox Convention Center, where messages about Love the Bus will be displayed on the stadium message board.
Clemons said the schools will be passing out school bus safety information to fans during the game.
There will also be plenty of opportunities for "Love the Bus Hockey Night" attendees to interact with the team.
"After the game, we get to skate with the players," Clemons said. "We get to be in the high-five tunnel, so before each period, when the players come out of the dressing room, we'll get to have a certain amount of people down there high-fiving them when they enter the ice."
A few attendees will also get to sit on the bench during warmups.
Clemons said she thinks "Love the Bus Hockey Night" will encourage other districts to participate in Love the Bus month.
"Here in the state of Oklahoma, we are one of the few districts that participates in it," she said. "Hopefully this will bring some awareness to Love the Bus and get more people involved."