BRISTOL, Va. — Students are back on the bus and through the doors for another year of school in Bristol, Virginia.
These drivers start before the sun comes up, preparing their buses for the routes ahead and the students who will step aboard. They will be the first faces many kids see on their way to school and the last they see on the ride home.
"It is the connection to the community and the children as well. You can make a difference, a big difference, in their lives," Bus driver Jullie Kelley said.
For some students like Vicky Kestner, it is her first time at her new school and a first-time bus ride. She has already got big plans for the year ahead. "Straight A's. All A's," Kestner told us.
Others have a little more experience at the bus stop, but Thursday, the bus seat conversation was all the same.
"Seeing which friends I have in my classes," Helen Hall-Leonard told us. Hall-Leonard entering the 8th grade this year.
Gemma Eastridge told us, "I'm so excited about going into 3rd grade and seeing my friends."
Bus drivers say their first day is also exciting, but it takes a couple of days to organize and finalize their routes. They tell us they go through annual training to make sure they are ready to transport children to and from school safely.
"Every year we have recertification and safety training that has to be done on a yearly basis to make sure everybody's up to speed and everything's being done the correct way," Kelley said.