The transportation department has been plugging along during this period of social distancing and distance learning, we have been hard at work trying to figure out how to accomplish transportation for the students coming into the new year. As we have been planning this we were inspired to show our support and congratulations to the outgoing seniors as the drivers did not get the opportunity to do this on a personal level. What would best be a way to show support to the Yakima School District graduating class from the transportation department? By using the buses many of our students have traveled in during the course of their school years.
As a member of a bus driver forum on social media, I had noticed school districts around the state as well as the nation putting together the buses in a 2020 logo. We began to see if it was possible for this to be done for our district. We hit a few roadblocks and it, unfortunately, dropped down on our radar as we were tasked with as I mentioned above, trying to figure out safe transportation coming into the new year. It was on one of our distance (Google) meetings with staff last week that one of our drivers had inquired if we were going to be able to do a tribute to the graduating class, as a parent of a graduating senior and seeing all that the students have actually missed out on this year, it immediately brought it back up on radar and actually right onto the front burner. We made it a priority project.
Wheels began turning, literally, the first thing was to see if it was even possible, in an attempt to maintain the safest environment possible the task of moving the buses was limited to those that had been exposed to the building and the buses already, but I know that the hearts of all the drivers were right there with us as we positioned the buses. It was all coming together, well we thought, buses were in place, we even added our own special quotations on the outsides of the logo, we were trying to figure out how to get the picture taken. We became aware as we were positioning the buses that it took up the whole lot. We would never be able to get the picture from the top of the transportation building. Calls were made and we were pleased to find an equal level of excitement at the opportunity to be a part of this project for our seniors. Maintenance offered up the electrical boom truck and our hopes were once again lifted, no pun intended, but the boom truck, even as it was lifted 40 feet in the air was not able to capture the whole essence of the picture. Well, what to do next, then we remembered, we have contacts within the district, our contacts got busy and within the day we had a solution. The district could try to use a drone to take the picture. My son has a drone so this should be easy to accomplish, we have him fly up and take the picture, done…. This proved to be a task in itself. As you may not know, the transportation building lies within the restricted air space of the airport and recreational drone technology would not work without a flight plan submitted to the federal aviation administration, we found this out when we attempted to test the drone and it would not allow it to take off, we even had the support of the local air traffic controllers who were attempting to walk me through the process of obtaining authorization, our plan was deteriorating and our timeline becoming ever so short to accomplish this task. Thankfully the district contacts we had were already focusing on a plan B too, our maintenance staff reached out to YV-Tech who had an instructor that had a drone pilots license and was certified to fly, he immediately jumped on board, again sorry for the bus puns. He went to task submitting all the necessary information and we were ready to make it happen with the FAA and our local airport tower.
The date was set. Tuesday morning at 9:00 he would be flying over the buses and taking a picture for our graduating seniors, well that is what we thought, in a totally inspirational moment as I arrived at the office to unlock the gate I was followed in by not just the drone pilot, but a member of YPAC who was also putting together the graduation ceremonies they were here to make sure everything was going to work. Preflight plans were beginning, a bit of a drizzle but this was important to all of us to make this happen.
As the weather cleared, the drones began buzzing and our tribute was coming together, we were joined by the crew of the maintenance staff that had made this plan B happen as well as a video editor professional from one of our own local schools. WOW, this was a tremendous show of support for our graduating class that had lost so much this year, many different pieces coming together to form an awesome picture.
I do want to thank all of those involved, this is truly an amazing project. All of those involved were more than gracious with their time and talent. When posed with our thanks and gratitude, all of those involved have said it is worth it for the kids, that really brings it right to the heart, to know that our staff on all levels of service care so much about the kids.
I know this can never replace the pomp and circumstance normally associated with graduation, but in our own little way hope that it will send a message from the district transportation department and the departments involved with making this possible that we support you and recognize the accomplishments you have made over the last 12 years to get to this point, and would like to wish all of our graduating class of 2020 the best in your future endeavors.
Congratulations class of 2020 from your transportation department!
Source: Yakima School District