Tricounty News

Matt Donnay receives scholarship

Matt Donnay, who recently graduated with the Kimball Class of 2014, received a $500 Joe Beaton MSBOA Scholarship as a result of the essay that he wrote, reprinted as follows:

School transportation has affected my life in many ways. I started riding the bus in kindergarten. I loved riding the bus because I had a great bus driver. Her name was Joann Hendricks. Joann and I liked to argue tractors being which one is better, John Deere or Case. I thought John Deere was, and she thought Case was. We would always tell each other stories from our farms. I always looked forward to riding the bus because I could talk farming. As I grew older, Joann and I kept giving each other a hard time.

My third-grade year, the bus routes got switched and I was no longer riding the bus with Joann. I was sad because I had nobody to argue tractors with. My new bus driver was her son, Lonnie. At first, I was scared of Lonnie, but as I came to know him, we became good friends. One day, he even gave me a special John Deere hat. To this day, I still have the hat, but it’s in pretty tough shape. I will always remember that because at my age to get a new hat for no particular reason was special.

My sixth-grade year, the bus routes got switched again and I no longer had Lonnie as my bus driver. I got stuck with his wife, Bev. Bev was really nice and treated me fair. She always let me get away with things that other kids didn’t get away with on the bus. She was really nice. As I grew older and my sister was able to drive, I didn’t ride the bus much anymore. Every once in a while, I would run into Joann and tell her how much better John Deere is than Case.

One day, I was shooting trap out at the Kimball Rod and Gun Club. Lonnie was there and asked if I was interested in a job for the summer. I told him I would be. He told me whenever I get time to stop in and figure things out. So around the middle of June of 2012 I started working for Hendricks Sand and Gravel and Hendricks Bus Service. I was happy he had asked me because I had always dreamed of working for an excavating Company. At first, I didn’t know their employees too well, and it was hard to talk to them. They were so nice and would talk to me like they knew me. Every day Joann cooks us a homemade lunch. It’s great to have somebody cook dinner for you because then you don’t have to bring a lunch and it saves a lot of time and money. As time went on, I got to know the employees better which were Lonnie and Bev’s sons Eric and Joe. Eric and Joe have been extremely good to me and have taught me many things. Their other employee was Jim Unterberger. Jim looked after me that summer and helped me learn how everything works. After my first summer, I realized how much I enjoyed doing this kind of stuff and knew it was something I wanted to do the rest of my life.

The summer of 2013 was one that I will never forget. The day after school was out, I went right back to work. Jim had retired and they had hired a new employee, Justin Kuechle. I spent most of the summer in the bobcat doing finish work and other jobs. They have taught me how to work on things and repair them. Every day Joann would have dinner for us and we would all meet at the shop at noon to eat and discuss the rest of the day’s plans. I was sad when I had to go back to school in the fall of 2013. I wanted to just work instead, but I knew I had to go to school. After school every day, I would go to work for a few hours. Over winter break I helped get buses ready for bus inspection. I was in charge of taking care of the seats in the bus. If they had holes or something, I either had to patch them or replace the whole seat cover. When I got done with the seats, I would usually check all the fluids and make sure all the lights worked. If I got all that done before Joe or Justin got done checking the brakes or changing a tire of something, I would help them. This taught me a lot about buses and how much work it actually is to keep them all running. They have about 20 buses total.

Today, I am still working for Hendricks Sand and Gravel and Hendricks Bus Service. I will graduate this spring and plan on working for them the rest of the summer until I start college at Ridgewater in Willmar, Minn. I am going to really miss working with and for great people like them. They have become a second family to me. Eric, Joe, and Justin all treat me like their brother. We give each other a hard time, which makes it fun. When we’re not working together we are usually hunting, fishing, or snowmobiling together. We like to work hard, but we also know how to have fun. If I think about how I’ve come to know such great people it’s because of school transportation. Ever since kindergarten I had a dream of working for Joann and her son Lonnie. School transportation has given me this opportunity and I can’t imagine my life any other way. I don’t even refer to my boss as my boss, it’s more like a friendship. Joann is referred to as “Granny” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She treats me better than she treats her own grandchildren. I am truly blessed to have had such an opportunity like this and I owe it all to school transportation.

Reprinted from the MSBOA Operator (Minnesota School Bus Operator’s Association) June 2014.