The sun hadn’t yet risen above the horizon as one of the yellow school buses drove out of the bus garage behind the Perry Middle School.

The bus drove past Violet Hill Cemetery before turning north on a gravel road to the edge of the Perry school district.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as the bus traveled over a bridge and around curves before picking up the first students.

The bus then came to a stop at a driveway. The flashing lights went on and the stop arm came out before two students made their way onto the bus. Two more followed that pair, bundled up in hats and gloves.

Steve McPherson told the students good morning as they climbed up the stairs and made their way to the back of the bus.

The stop arm folded back against the bus as it made its way back toward town. It soon stopped again as a boy ran down the lane with a couple dogs. The dogs barked as the boy climbed on the bus.

The scene was repeated as the bus stopped a few more times before heading back into town. McPherson stopped at the Perry Elementary School, where a number of students streamed onto the bus.

Those students were then dropped off at the Perry High School entrance.

“Have a good day in there,” McPherson told the students as they exited the bus.

Those interactions with the students are important, said Transportation Director Troy Griffith. Especially as the Perry Schools recognized National School Bus Safety Week from Oct. 22-26.

Griffith said this week’s theme, “My Driver - My Safety Hero,” is meant to show how important the driver is when it comes to school bus safety.

“Bus drivers are very important because students get to know the drivers very well. And they trust them,” Griffith said.

Drivers like McPherson get to know the students’ names and attitudes as they get on and off the school bus each day.

He stopped a couple students and asked them where their smiles were. McPherson then made a joke and got them laughing before they got off the bus.

One student was stopped by McPherson as he got on the school bus with a skateboard. The board stayed with McPherson up front.

Another student started fighting with her brother at one of the bus stops before McPherson got up to separate the two.

“If there is an issue with a student on the bus, the driver will first deal with it and then bring it to me,” Griffith said.

There are cameras on the buses to catch any issues with students. There are also cameras pointed outside the bus to help catch safety violations.

Griffith reminded drivers that if they see a school bus, they need to slow down. If they see the stop arm and the flashing lights, they need to stop.

It’s important not only for that driver, but also for the school bus driver and the students crossing the road to get on the bus.

“Our number one goal is safe and efficient transportation,” Griffith said.

That goal was magnified during National School Bus Safety Week as all of the students went through bus evacuation drills.

Though Griffith said he hopes they won’t need to evacuate a bus, it helps to be prepared. It also helps if the students know and trust “My Driver - My Safety Hero.”

That was especially true as the students recently got on and off McPherson’s school bus.

“Have a good day,” he told one of the students with a big smile. “See you tomorrow.”