Back to school
Everything repurposed has a past life and our Skoolie is no exception
We began our Skoolie Stays journey at the start of 2021, but that wasn’t the beginning for our big yellow American school bus. As the layers of paint were scrubbed off the exterior, we discovered the key to her past.
Little did we know that the reveal of three words – Manatee District Schools – would go on to unlock such a delightful story.
The school bus that became Skoolie Stays
Unlocking the secrets of Skoolie Stays past
We knew the Skoolie Stays bus had come from somewhere in Florida but it wasn’t until we started converting her that we found out the clues that led us to her past: a ticket stub behind the panelling, a number 25 hidden on the roof and the word “Manatee” hidden under a black splodge of paint.
I tweeted Manatee District Schools to share my discovery. I didn’t know what to expect by way of reply. They have hundreds of buses, so would they really care about a former member of their fleet?
Yes they would! This wasn’t just any bus – it was bus #25! They were absolutely blown away by my story and straight away they wanted to do something fun to reveal the transformation to the transportation department who had worked on and in her for so many years.
We worked with Melissa, the Communications Specialist, to provide our side of the story and then her team created an incredible film showcasing the reactions to the story of bus #25’s English retirement.
Celebrating a "lovely retirement"
Connecting with a team who loved her as much as we do
Melissa, our contact at Manatee District Schools, confirmed that our bus went to auction in 2020, having driven children from Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School to their home and vice versa. It used to travel along the roadways of U.S. 301 and 41 in Bradenton as part of the Manatee County School Bus fleet.
Melissa’s team revealed the interior transformation of the bus to her transportation department, without telling them the story. Perhaps they might like to take a holiday there? “Yes“, they all said. “It’s beautiful”, “It’s amazing“, “Is it a cabin?”.
“No. It’s bus no#25”.
The shock was clear on their faces.
Two of Manatee County’s longtime bus drivers who have driven buses there for more than 50 years combined, are pictured above in the schools district garage, where bus #25 was serviced for maintenance. They remember driving the bus, “I never thought that all of this could fit into a school bus…. How did they have more room than the children?!”
Mike Vickers, a mechanic for Manatee Schools, could clearly remember working on the bus. “I have worked on this bus, been in it…. oh my gosh, that is beautiful!”. He was so impressed he’s even thinking of converting one for himself so he can travel with his wife!
Melissa shared the story at the Manatee Schools Board Meeting as a “Good News” feature. The meeting went out on live stream to 6000+ employees and it was amazing to watch it from our home alongside them all. They have also shared the story and video on their site.