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TFS students and bus driver deck the aislesĀ 


One holiday project sparked smiles for miles with a group of Tallulah Falls School shuttle riders. 

Day students from the Clayton area thought it would be fun to decorate their assigned bus for the season. 

Bus driver “Mr. Ted” aka Ted Sternhardt, thought it was a grand idea. Through the approval process, Sternhardt learned the request was a first for the school. The initial brainstorm from the group included installing an inflatable Santa Claus on the roof of the bus and to hang garland on the outside of the vehicle. 

“That won’t work,” Sternhardt told them. He encouraged them to talk it over and come back with an alternate plan to decorate the interior of the vehicle. 

“They were already bringing in garland,” he said. 

On a sunny afternoon during study hall on Dec. 12, a majority of the bus riders met in the parking lot of the middle school to deck the halls or in this case, the bus aisle. 

He told the students they were creating memories by working together on the holiday-themed project. 

“What they had in their bags, they put to use,” he said. “It really looks nice. I’m proud of them.”

Freshman Reese English of Clayton said the younger students were tremendously excited about the project. Although involved with the planning, English was unable to join the decorating session because of conflicts with his upper school class schedule.

“Almost everyone brought in something we could use to decorate the bus and honestly I’m amazed of how devoted they were to make the bus look great and to show off Tallulah Falls School,” English said. “At first, I was a little disappointed when I found out I couldn’t help decorate, but I thought about it for a second and realized I was happy I did not go because now I get to see the smiles and happy expressions on the students’ faces; they accomplished it themselves and had a really great time doing it.”

English said Mr. Ted is a positive influence on the students he encounters. 

“I know for a fact every single kid that rides the bus with Mr. Ted loves it because he is nice,” he said. “I like that he cares for every single person that walks on the bus. He is a very good and Christian person and everyone can see that. He also gives compliments to everyone on the bus; he said he’s rooting for me with this week of tests.”

The feeling is mutual according to Sternhardt who is a new bus driver this year. 

He said the influence of the Tallulah 12 initiative and the emphasis on character development is evident in student behavior and attitude. 

“It’s fun to watch them. I’ve fallen in love with these kids,” he said. “[TFS bus driver] Beth [Cruz] said to me ‘you’ll get to love them.’ By the third day, I knew I did.”

Sternhardt retired in 2006 from the postal service and moved to Turnerville. When he applied to drive for the school, TFS helped him to get his CDL certification. 

“The school has been very good to me,” he said. “This job has been a Godsend to me.” 

Photos: E. Lane Gresham/Tallulah Fall School

Students from Rabun County decorated a Tallulah Falls School shuttle bus for the holidays. Shown, Bryce Welch of Clayton adds a small string of electric lights to the bus decor. Also, Krissa Fountain of Clayton adds decor to the window of the bus. 

Tallulah Falls School bus driver Ted Sternhardt of Turnerville has a bird’s eye view of the decorating party Dec. 12. Students made plans to decorate the bus for the season. Sternhardt helped the students realize the plan to add holiday decor to the bus.