In keeping with its predecessors, the “Yellowjacket Express” is a service that otherwise would leave a lot of people without an important aspect in life. Locally, Denison schools is the provider of this service and its students are the ones reaping the benefits.
This 'Activity Bus' was the brainchild of Head Football Coach Chad Rogers. He noted that there was such a bus at his previous school in Snyder, and there was a need for it in Denison.
“This route is dedicated to getting students home after athletics and tutoring at the high school level,” DISD Transportation Director Randy Taylor said. “We started with one driver and one bus, but now, we use different buses and drivers depending on where we are at that day. It runs every day but Fridays.”
The Express began its runs during Rogers' first season in 2012. In the beginning, the route was only for athletics, but later, it was opened to students in tutoring at Denison High School among other activities.
“It helps them keep up with their studies without them having to worry about a ride home,” said Rogers. “I thought it was important for our kids.”
“Having the ability to get home after such activities allows many more students to participate in school programs including academics,” explained Taylor. “It simply gives them a way home. It helps our students in that way.”
The ridership various on a daily basis depending on the time of year and the sport that is in season.
“We can have five to 25 or more,” he said. “It is a good deal. It's a really neat idea that helps them.”
Students sign up on a daily basis at the high school. The only stipulation is that the rider has to live within the Denison school district boundaries. The one bus dedicated to the route will go anywhere in the district that evening to get students home, and it generally runs about 5:30 p.m.
“This is one of those extras that the district provides to help our students get the most out of their educational experience,” explained Taylor. “There is no regular route; every day is a new day on that bus.”
Tiffany Cordell coordinated the tutoring program at DHS in 2018-2019. she handled the Express sign ups at the school. The usage varies, but there were usually 10-20 tutoring students using the bus every day.
“It (the bus) allows them to use our facilities: the laptops, the computers, the internet as well as tutoring services,” 2018-2019 Prime Time Tutoring Coordinator Cordell said. “And still have a way home. They simply couldn't take advantage of our services without that activity bus.”
According to Cordell, the school system has also added a meal to the program at the high school this year. So, students can get an evening meal in addition to a ride home any time they use the services.
“But it all wouldn't work without that 'Express' bus,” she said. “One of my tutoring students, a ninth grader, got tutoring in IPC (Integrated Physics and Chemistry). She said if there wasn't an activity bus, she wouldn't have been able to get help and raise her failing grade to passing. It works.”
School administrators agree that the program works.
“We take a lot of pride in having it (the 'Express'),” said DISD Superintendent Henry Scott. “It helps many students and we are happy to make this service available.”
“It's great. Many of our students who can't afford transportation or whose parents have later work schedules benefit,” said DHS Principal Cavin Boettger. “We see a definite benefit every day.”
And how did the bus get its name? Taylor noted that it was a fluke he let stand.
“Our original driver got the idea and had the words Yellowjacket Express put on the back of the bus,” smiled Taylor. “It looked good; you can see it driving around town. It is a great name and a great idea.”