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"Buses Bring People Together"

"We get to schools before the students get out as a safety measure," said Leatha Hansz, District 49 bus driver. Hansz drives the purple 7 route serving Falcon High School, Falcon Middle School and Meridian Ranch Elementary School in Falcon Zone.
Prior to leaving the bus lot to pick up students, District 49 bus drivers conduct detailed inspections of the large yellow people movers. "All fluids, belts, hoses, the brake chamber, leaf springs, shocks and main frame get checked each morning," Hansz said. "Other things, like tire pressure, lights, stop sign and doors, are checked each trip." 
The route runs about three hours in the morning and afternoon. Hansz says she stops three times for high school students, middle school has four stops and the elementary students that get on and off her bus do so at twelve stops.
Chris Lendsey, FHS junior, laughs on the purple 7 bus.   Drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus stop sign is out and red lights are flashing.
"Buses bring people together," said Chris Lendsey, Falcon High School eleventh-grader, as he prepared to get off the purple 7 bus route in Falcon Zone on a cool May afternoon. "We have friendships because we rode the bus that we might not have otherwise." Lendsey and other FHS students had just reminisced about the "funniest" moment of the year on the route.
"It's a balance to keep a check on the kids and drive defensively," Hansz said, "It's check the mirrors, check the kids, check the mirrors, check the kids." Hansz does appreciate the beauty of her route in the northern part of District 49, noting that the morning sunrise or an afternoon view of Pikes Peak when no students are on the bus are "gorgeous and beautiful."
"While safety is the number one thing," said Hansz, "it's the relationships that I have with the kids that are special." 
"In the morning every is quiet," said Gavin Collins, ninth-grader at Falcon High School, "we aren't awake yet. After school though, you have all these good stories to tell about what happened during the day."
Falcon High School students ride the purple 7 bus on May 11.   Leatha Hansz pulls out of the parking lot at Falcon High School on the purple 7 route May 11.
"They are too crazy," Benz Sotornat, FHS eleventh grade student said, "They make me laugh when they say funny things." Benz says she chooses to ride the bus, even though she has her drivers license. "My Dad pays to ride the bus, why would I drive my car?"
"I tried to hold the rain off for you," Hansz says as she pulls up to the final high school stop before heading on to Falcon Middle School, "Bye Benz, I'll see you tomorrow."
"These kids are so precious, I treat them like my own kids," said Hansz. 
A Falcon High School student gets on the purple 7 bus driven by Leatha Hansz.   Leatha Hansz closes the door to her bus after performing a pre-trip inspection May 11.
Matt Meister