New Jersey First Grader Wins National Essay Contest
High Point, N.C. – Six year old Erica Gagliardi of Branchburg, N.J., thinks her school bus driver, Mrs. Brogan, is the best bus driver in the whole world. And Gagliardi persuaded the judges of Thomas Built Buses’
“Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year” contest she was right.
In 2006, as part of Thomas’ 90th anniversary celebration, the company invited elementary school students across America to nominate their favorite school bus driver by submitting a 90-word essay on what is special about their driver. Gagliardi’s essay took top prize, making Elaine Brogan of the Branchburg School District in New Jersey the Children’s Choice School Bus Driver of the Year.
“For many children, the person who opens the school bus door every day is a friend, mentor and guardian,” said Thomas Built Buses president and CEO John O’Leary. “This is our way of saying thank you to those drivers.”
For nominating the winning driver, first-grader Gagliardi received a $1,000 educational savings bond provided by Thomas Built Buses and a Dell laptop computer, provided by Thomas’ information technology partner, Electronic Data System Corporation. Brogan received a trip for two to the National Association of Pupil Transportation trade show; held Nov. 5-9 in Kansas City, Mo. Brogan has been a driver for the Branchburg district for 17 years.
The contest also recognized four runners-up and one honorable mention.
Runners-up include: Kurt Anfinson of the South Winneshiek School District in Calmar, Iowa, nominated by Micole Lansing; Hazel Sleeter from Charles W. Lewis Middle School in Blackwood, N.J., nominated by Emily Antrilli; Bill Henson of the West Ottawa Public School District in Holland, Mich., nominated by Tyler MacDonald; and Leetta Vinson of Albany Public Schools in Albany, Ore., nominated by William Burnett.
Receiving honorable mention was driver Lisa Oliphant from Shepard Elementary School in Statesville, N.C., nominated by Katie Gibson. All received Thomas Built Buses jackets and Saf-T-Liner(r) C2 school bus lunch boxes.
Entries were judged on content, originality and driver qualifications.
Judges included representatives from Thomas Built Buses, School Bus Fleet magazine publisher Frank DiGiacomo and Knowledge Learning Corporation fleet services senior manager Dave Lear. Hundreds of children from school districts across the country submitted essays nominating their favorite driver.
Thomas Built Buses (www.thomasbus.com) is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market.
Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has focused entirely on delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.
Thomas Built Buses is a member of Freightliner LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 3-8 vehicles. Freightliner LLC produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer.