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Principal, Kristen Okabayashi receives the keys to the new bus.

Move over yellow bus; there’s a new bus in town ready to shuttle students to field trips, athletic events and community service activities. At the beginning of November, Principal Kristen Okabayashi was handed the keys to a 2014 Ford Starcraft bus which she excitedly drove to its new home at Hope School. “It was truly one of the most exciting things I’ve done since being principal here at Hope,” gushed Okabayashi. The bus is currently parked in the lower parking lot behind the church awaiting new decals to identify it as belonging to Hope School, and it has also taken a few maiden voyages since arriving at Hope.

Eighth grade was the first class to ride in the bus. They were excited about the new plush seats, speakers to hear the radio, air conditioning and “no exhaust fumes!” they exclaimed.

In 2005, Hope school purchased two used 1994 yellow short school buses for $20,000 to transport students to activities. Thanks to the special attention and care by past Hope parent, Christopher Christensen from West Seattle Autoworks, these two mighty vehicles have transported students to outdoor education at Miracle Ranch, athletic events in Tacoma, Forks, and Lake Stevens, and numerous trips around Seattle. However, buses can take a beating and unfortunately they only last so long. After limping back from the most recent trip to Miracle Ranch this last September with a frozen alternator and broken belt, and vandalism over the summer to the second bus (a broken window and punctured gas tank), it became evident that a replacement would be needed.

20151102_134153Aware that even a used bus in good condition would cost a significant amount of money, PTH (Parents and Teachers of Hope) budgeted money from the Orange Ruler fun run last year and this fall to help cover some of the cost, hoping a vehicle could be found within that budget. Then out of the blue, one very important phone call came in to the school office one morning. A donor, wishing to remain anonymous, offered to pay the balance of what was needed to buy a bus for the school! What a God moment! The donor had some criteria for the new vehicle, and when Okabayashi began the search the very day the phone call came in, she found the bus now sitting in the lower parking lot. It had just been posted online at Northwest Bus Sales, Inc. in Federal Way, the same company we purchased our last two buses from. With the gift of the donor plus trading in one of the repaired buses and using the $15,000 PTH budgeted from the fun run, Hope students now have a 14 passenger bus with luggage compartment to take them on new adventures.

“Thank you so much to our families, friends, and supporters for raising funds to purchase this beautiful new bus! Our students now have a safe vehicle to drive them around in style, representing our school to the community around us. We appreciate it!” says Mrs. Okabayashi.