MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) - Khyla Quimby admits she was quite nervous when she first started riding the bus to school at Spring Run Elementary in Midlothian.
"I was scared because I didn't know anybody on the bus," said Quimby.
She was a new face on the bus with students all sitting with their backs to her, and that is the view she and other children see everyday on school buses.
"It's not really the ideal community situation for students to develop relationships," said counselor Terri Shepherd.
That is why Khyla and her schoolmates are really getting to know each other through a program called Peaceful School Bus. Every student who rides the bus goes through this program, whether the child is in 5th grade or kindergarten.
They all work together, learning the little things about each other like names and hobbies. However, they also work on the big things like problem-solving and ways to make the ride to and from school a bit more pleasant.
"Last year it was really loud, but since we did the Peaceful School Bus, it very, like, good now, and everyone is staying seated," said 5th grade student Gabriella Martinez.
Spring Run has offered this program now for three years, and every year, Shepherd, along with the teachers and bus drivers, has seen improvement, especially in the older students.
"I want them to learn how to help each other. How to be leaders- leaders of themselves, as well as leaders of younger students. How to stand up to bullying and feel good about it," said Shepherd.
They also feel good about the program's rewards. Every time the students put their lesson into practice, they earn 10 points. If they make their way up to 100 points during the school year, they are rewarded with ice cream parties.
Several schools within the Chesterfield County Public School System participates in the Peaceful School Bus program.