Bus driver honored, student receives first Etchberger Leadership Award at Hamburg School Board meeting

The rare hail storm that hit the county on the afternoon of May 22 caused a lot of anxious and frightening moments for drivers and passengers who were trying navigate through the storm.

School buses were running their normal routes, taking students home when the storm struck.

A bus carrying eight elementary students from Hamburg Area School District stopped, a fallen tree laid across the road in front of the bus.

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The bus driver gathered the students in the middle of the bus and tried to keep them calm as hail pounded on the roof of the bus.

The storm stopped a few minutes later and another bus arrived on the other side of the fallen tree to take the students home.

For her actions during the hail storm, bus driver Tara Plummer received a recognition award on June 2 at a meeting of Hamburg Area school directors.

Kim Byassee, transportation coordinator, read a letter of thanks from a parent whose child was on the bus and then presented a certificate of recognition to Plummer, who has driven a bus in the district since 2009.

“There were some very frightened elementary students on the bus and Tara was a calming influence,” Byassee said. “She’s a special person.”

“We are blessed to have a lot of great bus drivers in the district,” Superintendent Steven Keifer said.

In other news, Daniel McLean was the inaugural recipient of the Etchberger Leadership Award.

Cory Etchberger, representing the Chief Master Sergeant Richard L. Etchberger Foundation, presented a certificate, foundation pin and a challenge coin to McLean.

McLean will also receive a $500 scholarship.

“My brothers and I want to honor, not academic achievement, but service and leadership to others, which is what our father represented,” Etchberger said.

CMSgt. Etchberger died in 1968 in Vietnam while saving the lives of others and posthumously received the nation’s highest military honor for valor, the Medal of Honor, in 2010.

Applicants for the award had to write an essay about the characteristics leaders possess and what leaders learned from failure.

McLean’s winning essay was one of seven that the three Etchberger brothers were given to choose from.

High School Principal Chris Spohn said that he hopes interest in the award grows and that the amount of the scholarship could increase.

The next meeting of school directors will be on Monday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the James A. Gilmartin Community Room.