SPARTA, NJ – The students of the Sparta Middle School seventh grade have been participating in a special club for the past five years. ,Overseen by volunteer teachers Stephen Frangione, Robert Medina and Michael Milligan, students who participate in the Coffee Club come to school early every Wednesday to serve coffee, hot chocolate or tea to the bus drivers.
The concept was conceived out of the School Safety Committee as a way “mitigate trouble on the bus.”
Frangione, Garnet team math teacher, said it was also created “to develop mutual respect between students and bus drivers.”
“The kids don’t get anything out of it,” continued Garnet Team Language Arts teacher Medina, “except the knowledge they helped a bus driver start their day in a nice way.”
As the “public relations person” for the club Ruby Team Civics teacher Milligan talked about other remarkable aspects of the community service club.
He said, “They come to the school early and the parents are driving them early without complaint,” showing their understanding of the value of the program.
After students are dropped off they sign in and “then go take orders from the bus drivers.”
At Christmas this year they students wrapped up reusable travel mugs that the drivers put to good use.
Last year student participation began to wane. Seeking to address this Milligan explained that the students receive a t-shirt after participating for five weeks. The shirt was designed by a student. It appears to be working as there are “consistently 13 to 15 students each week.”
Milligan said they can see the spirit of giving has become infectious. One of the bus drivers handed out pens at Valentine’s Day decorated with hearts “so they know that there is someone else that cares for them.”
Driver Kim Peterson who was attending the meeting confirmed the appreciation for their efforts. “It’s fantastic. The kids are very polite. The drivers would really miss it if it were gone. I use my mug every week.
Superintendent Dennis Tobin, in thanking the men for their efforts said, “This is a great opportunity to forge relationship between the students and the drivers.”