The students bounded down the stairs of the yellow school bus with bright smiles and new shoes.
A few of the students hesitated — unsure of where to go and rubbing sleep from their eyes.
Offering hugs, handshakes and direction, Wilson Focus School Principal Lu Ann Jacobs was there to welcome them all.
Jacobs and her staff greeted the students with a chorus of “good morning,” “welcome back” and “here we go.”
Fist bumps. Bubbles. And a greeting from Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan. With that, the 2019-20 school year was under way.
Students at OPS’s Wilson Focus near 51st Avenue and F Street are always the first students back in the classroom.
The school, which is composed of grades three through six, follows an extended-year calendar. Students head back to school in late July and attend classes through the end of June.
The first day of school at Wilson also means the first busing test of the new school year.
On Thursday morning, the 11 buses arrived one after another like clockwork. The last bus arrived at the school at 7:45 a.m. for the 8 a.m. start time.
“The buses looked great,” said Cindy Bauer, training supervisor for OPS Student Transportation. “They rolled through with no problems at all.”
The district has spent the summer getting ready and will do another dry run before the other schools start on Aug. 14, Bauer said.
The preparation included holding hiring fairs to add more bus drivers. Bauer said OPS is still accepting applications for drivers on the district’s website.
This year, the OPS board approved a new busing contract with longtime provider Student Transportation of America.
As part of the new contract, OPS is working on an app that will allow parents to track their child’s bus and get notifications when it approaches the student’s designated stop.
The district will start piloting the application, called Here Comes the Bus, in the fall. The rollout of the app will be staggered but will start with the high schools, a district spokeswoman said.