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'I see the driver -- The driver sees me'

Special Photo . Alexander Griffin, an eighth-grader at Patrick Henry Middle School, won Henry County Schools' School Bus Safety Poster Contest in Division 3.

Special Photo . Alexander Griffin, an eighth-grader at Patrick Henry Middle School, won Henry County Schools' School Bus Safety Poster Contest in Division 3.

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Special Photo . Second-grader Talia Hardman of Mt. Carmel Elementary School won Henry County Schools' School Bus Safety Poster Contest in Division 1.

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Nikyah Little, a fourth-grader at Dutchtown Elementary School, was announced as the Division 2 winner in Henry County Schools' School Bus Safety Poster Contest.

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Special Photo . Alexander Griffin, an eighth-grader at Patrick Henry Middle School, won Henry County Schools' School Bus Safety Poster Contest in Division 3.

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Special Photo . Henry County Schools announced Yaunique Hill, a seventh-grader at Stockbridge Middle School as the Division 4 winner of its School Bus Safety Poster Contest this year.

The Henry County Schools Transportation Department has announced the winners of its annual school bus safety poster contest.

This year's poster contest theme is "I See The Driver - The Driver Sees Me!" Its winners included: Talia Hardman, a second-grader at Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Division 1; Nikyah Little, a fourth-grader at Dutchtown Elementary School in Division 2; Alexander Griffin, an eighth-grader at Patrick Henry Middle School in Division 3; and Yaunique Hill, a seventh-grader at Stockbridge Middle School in Division 4.

The winning posters now will go on to be judged in the 2011 Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation School Bus Poster Contest.

School officials point out that the district-level poster contest is part of the lead up to the Georgia School Bus Safety Week -- which coincides with the National School Bus Safety Week from Oct. 17-21. They said the contest aids in promoting and educating pupils and adults alike about school bus safety.

"Student safety is our biggest concern," said Cliff Shearouse, Henry's director of transportation services. "At the beginning of each school year the drivers, along with the school administration, take time out of the school day to educate each student on bus safety and evacuation procedures."

Shearouse said the procedures are important for all students to know and understand, because "at some point all students will ride a bus during the years they are in school, whether on a bus route to school, a field trip for a class, or for an extracurricular activity after school."

The transportation services director pointed to a fire that erupted on a school bus en route to school the morning of Aug. 1, the first day of school for the school district.

School officials lauded the bus driver, John Wilkins, and his student riders for their roles in safely evacuating the bus before it was overwhelmed by flames.

"With the bus fire that occurred this year, we have been able to use that experience to help the students better understand the importance of knowing the proper procedures for evacuation and safety," said Shearouse. "Many drivers have used pictures to show the bus and how quick it can be engulfed in flames."