Humble Beginnings: Two School Buses to Start

  • When Rush-Henrietta opened its doors 75 years ago, it did so with two school buses. Just two. 

    The late Norm Miller, a member of Rush-Henrietta’s Class of 1949, sat down with us in 2019 to discuss his experience as a student, teacher, and administrator at his alma mater.  Miller shared how Rush-Henrietta transported students using only two school buses stored each night in the barn on his family’s East Henrietta Road property in Rush. Life was simpler then!

    The district opened its first new building, Rush-Henrietta Central School, now known as Roth Junior High School, in 1952. Its fleet of buses had expanded significantly by that time. The October 5, 1952, edition of the Democrat and Chronicle noted R-H had 12 buses transporting 930 students.

    “Manager of all this is Leslie R. Fish,” the newspaper shared. “According to the terminology of the State Education Department, which customarily underestimates the scope of school jobs, Fish’s title is just ‘head mechanic.’ More impressive is his responsibility – the efficiency of the school transportation system and the safety of the district’s children.”

    Like today, keeping students safe was a top priority in the district’s early years. “Good morale means more to school bus drivers than to most people,” Fish said. “Their big worry is the kids – will they get out of hand and endanger their own lives? But when the driver is proud of his bus and knows the kids are proud of him, things are easier. Then he can keep his mind on the road.”

    Bus drivers have to pay close attention to everyone on the road, too. The June 10, 1955, Democrat and Chronicle shares the story of John Dillinger, 19, an R-H student struck by a car after getting off the bus one late spring afternoon. The driver was fined $10, the equivalent of $104 today, for passing a stopped school bus. The student “escaped serious injury.”

    Today, the district relies on more than 100 buses to transport at least 5,000 students each day. They travel 7,800 miles daily; that is nearly 1.5 million miles annually. For several years, our region and state have experienced a serious driver shortage, making those who choose to transport students to and from home safely all the more important. We thank them!

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