Bus driver celebrates students’ birthdays

Jay Wolkenbrod ensures birthdays are not overlooked

Bus+driver+Jay+Wolkenbrod+sings+%22Happy+Birthday%22+to+a+student+Dec.+20.+Wolkenbrod+celebrates+birthdays+and+brings+gifts%2C+including+a+balloon+and+a+card%2C+to+students.

Ava Ashby

Bus driver Jay Wolkenbrod sings "Happy Birthday" to a student Dec. 20. Wolkenbrod celebrates birthdays and brings gifts, including a balloon and a card, to students.

Sofie Geretz

According to bus driver Jay Wolkenbrod, being a bus driver for four years has enabled him to stay with students throughout their academic  career.

“I went through training and I’ve had the same route for four years and have seen some of my kids go from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school,” Wolkenbrod said. “I am still here and I still enjoy it.”

Wolkenbrod said he came out of retirement to become a bus driver.

“I was at Walgreens one day and (was) talking with some kids that were a little boisterous,” Wolkenbrod said. “The owner (of the Park Adam Transportation company), came up to me, she says, ‘You’ve got a great personality. Would you like to drive a school bus? You would love it.’” 

According to Wolkenbrod, he makes sure to give the birthday student a balloon, lollipop and personalized card. 

“(Students) get a balloon, a sucker and a card,” Wolkenbrod said. “I try to personalize the card about them and everything. The amount of time I’ve known them and everything.”

According to freshman Ruby Livon, Wolkenbrod recognizing students’ birthdays is a great way to celebrate.

“This is a fun way of someone recognizing their birthday and celebrating with them,” Livon said.

According to Wolkenbrod, celebrating students’ birthdays ensures they feel cared for and appreciated on their birthday.

“I’ve been doing it for three of the four years. I used to work at shelters for runaway kids called the Bridge. I noticed that a lot of kids get passed up on their birthday,” Wolkenbrod said. “Especially for the younger kids in the morning, it’s such a nice thing on their birthday, the first thing they see is a balloon and a little gift and a card and everyone sings happy birthday.” 

Livon said that celebrating birthdays on bus rides adds a new level of community for the students on the bus.

“It adds unity to the bus. Otherwise there’s not really anything (creating a community),” Livon said.

Wolkenbrod said a highlight of being the bus driver is being able to interact with and brighten students’ days.

“I enjoy greeting the kids saying good morning telling you have a good day and some of these kids don’t always get that interaction,” Wolkenbrod said.

Wolkenbrod said giving students recognition on their birthdays is significant and adds a lot to the student’s birthday.

“I just think it’s nice. I don’t know what the situation is at home, but I think the kids enjoy the recognition and they never miss out on a birthday this way,” Wolkenbrod said.