Students' Solution For School Bus Safety Wins First Place

It typically happens on a school bus. Every little move students make can be a huge distraction for a bus driver.

Every day, Carol Paola must deal with noisy students. Mrs. Paola said "You have that danger that you actually watch the mirror more than you're watching the road, and that's what makes it so frightening when you're driving the bus".

Mrs. Paola not only drives the bus in Long Beach, she also teaches at Quarles Elementary. Her fifth grade Discovery students have been searching for answers to the bus safety problem.

The students entered a "Project Citizen" contest in which they had to study a problem in their community and find a solution. They considered installing seatbelts and assigning seats to students. Then the class came up with an answer - put high school seniors on board.

Timmy Maloy said "We were thinking a monitor at the back of the bus could tell students like hey David, stop messing with Shirley or something. That way, the bus driver would just focus on driving".

Their project was so impressive, it was judged the best in Mississippi. Now, the students hope to convince school board members to endorse their idea.

Azaria Hill said "We'll create a power point presentation and put in our drawings and pictures and letters. It doesn't have to be a requirement. It can be something if they want to do it".

The students believe having an extra set of eyes to monitor students' behavior on the buses can reduce the distractions. Timmy said "It can save a lot of kids lives and there will be less injuries and crashes".

It will also allow bus drivers like Mrs. Paola to keep their eyes on the road. Paola said "Things would be much calmer, much quieter on the road".

The students will present their proposal to the school board on April 19th. Their project will also be entered in a national competition in Denver in July.