Bus stops to help child

Students take action to help


Leo Justesen

Students board bus 213 Sept. 21. On Sept. 7, the bus stopped to aid a toddler found in the street.

Elena Ortiz-Fishman

Driving students on bus 213 home, bus driver Jeanette McCall said she was shocked to see a toddler in the middle of the street Sept. 7. 

“I was concerned. How did the child get out of the house? Why wasn’t there any doors locked? I was concerned and a little scared, it’s dangerous. There are cars that were going by and no one really stopped,” McCall said. “I just wanted to make sure the child was safe.”

While McCall quickly called dispatch, junior Coeleen Gruen exited the bus. For her, she said this action was second nature. 

“At first I was panicking. I was just startled, a little child was (in the street) and I see Libi (Ackerman) go down. She’s the only one out,” Gruen said. “Emotionally, I’m still very concerned for the kid. I’m surprised that I acted so quickly, because if I was thinking about it I probably would have been a bit more hesitant but I just did it.” 

The first one off of the bus, sophomore Libi Ackerman said her quick thinking can be attributed to her connection with children and the importance of religion in her life. 

“The first thing I really thought about was my cousin. I love kids, I work with them all the time, I help out with them at synagogue,” Ackerman said. “My religion really influenced that aspect of being the one to go out and do stuff and help the people. That’s a really big part in Judaism. What I’ve been educated about my religion is that you go out and you help people — you don’t just stand there and watch bad things happen.”

Reaching the child on the street, Gruen said there was an immediate communication barrier. Unable to speak with the distressed child, Gruen said she and others followed him as he guided them back. 

“He was actually crying because he was very distressed. It was also like 96 degrees and the middle of construction, so I was like, ‘Oh, boy.’ And, it turns out, there was a back door open,” Gruen said. 

From this situation, McCall said she took out patience and preparation for anything to happen in the future. 

“To know that I was alert and was able to see the situation — being able to resolve the situation felt good, but I can’t really say I can take pride of it because any mother would have done the same thing,” McCall said. “This lets me know that I need to be a little more alert of what’s going on. I came home and hugged my own grandbaby who’s probably about the same age.” 

After peers entered the house and ensured the toddler was safely with a sibling, they returned to the bus. Ackerman said despite the brief delay, she was happy to have helped. 

“We ended up being half an hour late home. But it was worth it, because knowing that there was a kid who was out of danger was really important. If there’s a baby in the street, you help, you go do something,” Ackerman said. “Because if you’re not the person who’s going to go do something about it, how can you guarantee anyone else will?” 

Mccall said she feels grateful to the students and their quick thinking, as afterwards her supervisor notified the superintendent of their accomplishment. 

“I’d like to say thank you to the girls who took out the time to help, which shows the character that they have — they’re really good,” McCall said. 

For Ackerman, being able to assist the child meant more than any recognition she got. 

“I didn’t expect any recognition for it. I got dragged out of my pottery class and was told that the superintendent wanted to see me and I freaked out,” Ackerman said. “It would be kind of weird to say that I don’t really care that much, but I don’t really care about the recognition for it — it’s just knowing that the kid is safe, and that we did something is enough.”