Blot graphic by Cameron Fleming and Lauren Tarigo
Junior Ava Turner of Middletown wakes up to a 5:30 a.m. alarm each day in order to get ready for her bus, which picks her up at 6:20 a.m. She does not return home after school until after 3:30 p.m., forcing her to make a few compromises due to her long bus ride.
“Sometimes, it’s annoying because I could be spending the time being more productive at home, going out with my friends, or getting lunch,” Turner said. “But it’s not the biggest deal in the world.”
On spring afternoons, she buses to Middletown High School North to play softball, missing half of each practice due to travel time. Despite this inconvenience, Turner feels that the coaches have been accommodating toward her transportation situation.
“My coaches don’t give me a hard time at all, and they give me equal playing time,” Turner said. “It all works out and there’s never any problems.”
Not all advisers are as accommodating as Turner’s, like Chelsea Gower, the director of the Spartan Players Drama Club at Ocean Township High School. Though there are only three CHS students in the cast of 18, Gower said that since the CHS students in the play have lead roles, travel delays affect rehearsal productivity significantly.
“It is an immense set back for me,” Gower stressed. “I completely forget that they’ve missed something we did the first 45 minutes and then they are… unprepared. It is truly impossible.”
While Turner sits on a bus for over two hours every day, some students do not take the bus at all, such as senior Michael LaValva of Brielle. He lives 15 minutes away from CHS and has carpooled with a friend to and from school for the past two years. LaValva said that while he drives now for convenience, he still enjoyed his time during the 30-minute bus ride when he rode it during his freshman and sophomore years.
“The bus experience was pretty good,” LaValva said. “[The kids] were really welcoming, and most days, we would have nice, fun conversations.”
Freshman Joseph Wicke of Freehold took the bus to school for the first time this year, which takes 30 to 45 minutes each way. “I get on the bus at around 6:30 to 6:45, and I get home at around 3:30,” he said.
Wicke, an active participant in his home high school’s band, said that the lengthy bus ride can affect the amount of time he spends at practice, similar to Turner. Although the long bus ride can be detrimental to his morning routine and extracurriculars, Wicke is just happy to be attending CHS.
“I knew the bus ride was going to be longish since I’m a long way away… but I didn’t really mind because I’d rather go to this school than focus on the bus,” Wicke said.