May 21 was the last day of school for 2021. For most of the students and the school bus drivers, it was a very emotional event!

For the grade schoolers, it was a time of moving on to the next grade, but to some it was way more. It meant that the teacher who had been so patient to help them realize that 2 and 2 totaled 4, but 3 plus 1 also totaled 4! And a whole lot more ... amazing! They had just become used to this wonderful person helping to explain so many of the exciting new things, in their lives, and the school year ended!

Sure, it was exciting that they were now one grade higher, but there was some doubt about their new teacher! Would she or he like me? Would I like them? Usually the other classmates' positive attitudes about moving on helped a lot to reduce and replace the fears.

For the ones leaving fifth grade and moving on to sixth grade, there is the excitement of a completely different school with some new challenges to overcome! This group also goes through the loss of favorite teachers, routine and class position, but to most of them it is a chance to move on from being a “grade schooler” to a “junior high person!”

The “intermediate “ students, sixth through eighth grade, seem to roll with the stepping up in grades somewhat more comfortably. When they have passed the eighth grade, they are now moving into a time a time of their life that requires them to become less like children and more like adults! It is referred to as “maturity”! A difficult transition for some, but the ones on my bus seem to have come around pretty quickly.

For me, it was seeing a great turn-around for every class. When schools finally opened, and I was able to start picking up my students, no matter what age group, the reaction was the same. The bus was very quiet! True, there was only about one-third as many riders as last year, but a very quiet school bus is just not normal.

After experiencing months of not being sure of what to expect for the future, there was much concern about what going back to school would be like. I am delighted to say that, within a couple of weeks, normal settled in! They had to sit one seat apart and only family members could sit together. And that became “normal” for the school bus ride!

The last day of school this year was very much like all the others I have seen! Lots of cheering, with a few tears, by both the teachers and the students (and maybe a bus driver or two). Come to think of it, that sounds pretty normal.

Oh yeah, I was very lucky to receive some really nice cards and a few really nice hugs! Can’t wait to see them all again next school year.

Sahuarita resident James Berg is in his eighth year of bus driving grade school and high school students for Sahuarita Unified School District 30. He lived in Seattle, Washington, before retiring and leaving a career in custom home and small commercial building. School bus driving, he says, is “the perfect answer to retirement boredom.”

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