No one is 100-percent sure when Jack Kendrick’s love for school buses began. But if the pictures of buses that he draws or the bus-themed shirts he wears to school each day are any indication, his love for school buses runs deep — especially for new propane-powered buses.
On Sept. 15, the South Carolina special-needs student, who attends seventh grade at League Academy in Greenville, S.C., was presented with a propane bus of his own.
“Jack, this is going to be your bus that you take to school,” Mary Leslie Anderson, the school’s principal, told him as he stared at the bus with wonder.
While Greenville County already has more than 20 propane-powered buses in its fleet, this is the first propane bus designed for special-needs students. And it’s all because of Jack.
Jack’s dedication and keen communication skills stood out in his efforts to get the bus added to the fleet, Adam James, the director of transportation for Greenville County Schools, explained.
“Jack originally petitioned his bus driver, Miss Gerry, then he sent me a letter,” he said. “I asked Jack if I could give that letter to the transportation director for the state Department of Education, which I did. Then it was passed on to state Superintendent Molly Spearman. It all happened from there.”
Several dignitaries, including Spearman, traveled to Jack’s school for the presentation of the bus. Spearman shared a seat with him as the shiny new bus took a spin through the school parking lot.
“I couldn’t miss this today,” Spearman said. “What’s so impressive is how well Jack is communicating and advocating. League Academy is a communications magnet school and I would say Jack is a great communicator.”
Jack was born with both autism and club feet, and has undergone several surgeries in his lifetime.
Dr. W. Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools, said Jack has shown what a little determination on the part of a student can do.
“Jack has shown how students can help to get things done in a positive way when they see an issue or a problem that needs to be addressed,” Royster said.
No one is prouder than League Academy’s Anderson, who said Jack is a stickler for details.
“He studied the inspection sticker. He studied the green propane sticker. Then he said, ‘This is a propane bus!’” Anderson said. “He also pointed out it’s a 2021 model.”
Since Jack is an advocate for the environment, his passion for propane buses makes sense, since they produce fewer emissions, she added.
Tim Waller is the director of media relations for Greenville County Schools.