Message from NHS principal, David Parker.
Yesterday morning, I received a call every school official fears – one informing us that students from our building had been involved in a serious accident. A Northern Wells Community Schools bus transporting NHS students from Bellmont HS had been struck by a car while passing through the intersection of Highways 224 and 27. While there were lessons learned from yesterday’s incident, there were so many positives takeaways that I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to the many people involved.
First, thank you to those who assisted in the immediate moments after the accident. From the good Samaritans who stopped to help to the first responders who secured the scene and ensured the safety of all involved, your assistance was greatly appreciated. NWCS bus driver, Judy Sonnigsen, and NWCS transportation director, Stephanie Rohr – thank you for your leadership in keeping our students safe and calm and for communicating well with school officials. Thank you to Bellmont HS principal, Kim Hiatt, for leaving your own students and reporting to the scene and then to the hospital to offer assistance.
Dr. Scott Mills, thank you for your active involvement
yesterday. Your willingness to immediately travel to the scene and your guidance and leadership in overseeing the coordination of logistics, communication efforts, and our reunification plan were extraordinarily helpful. Thank you also for working with our students on the scene and at the hospital and for traveling back to NHS with students on our back-up bus. Your hands-on involvement was critical in ensuring student safety and fostering effective communication to parents and community members. Thank you also for your leadership in demanding that NWCS employees are well-trained in safety related measures. Thank you to the NWCS safety team, especially Ginger Butcher, Kelby Weybright, Alex Nafziger, Chad Bradley, and Holly Morgan for the work you have done in preparing us to handle situations like the one we faced yesterday. The plans and protocols our safety team have installed were critical elements of yesterday’s success reunification. NHS office staff, thank you for efforts and assistance in dealing with yesterday’s incident. Thank you NHS teachers for your preparation and willingness to mobilize when called upon.
A HUGE thank you to the staff at Adams Memorial Hospital. Your preparedness, hospitality, efficiency, and level of care were outstanding! Thank you for caring for our people – from greeting students, school officials, and parents at the door to the medical services provided to serving lunch and drinks, your service was excellent. The way you served was even more impressive. Special thanks to Dr. Scott Smith, Brent Kiplinger, and Lydia Voirol for your leadership, direction, and collaboration. Thank you also to the staff at Bluffton Regional Medical Center. In many ways, yesterday’s incident was a replication of the mock bus accident and reunification drill we practiced last spring. The lessons our team learned by collaborating with the BRMC staff last year undoubtedly prepared us for yesterday’s events.
Parents and guardians of NHS students, THANK YOU for your cooperation yesterday – especially those of you who had children involved. Your patience, understanding, and cooperation in partnering with hospital and school officials was greatly appreciated. Thank you for allowing us to balance legal protocols and school polices with the concerns we all had for your children’s safety and well-being.
Students… those of you involved in yesterday’s incident were simply amazing! We talk a lot about “culture” and yesterday was a phenomenal example of both your character, as individuals, and the culture of our school. Thank you for your maturity, your respectful and cooperative behavior. Your efforts in communicating with your parents/guardians and school/hospital officials was amazing – you were awesome and you handled the situation beautifully! I cannot tell you how many adults commented on the way you presented yourselves yesterday. I am proud of you all. Above all, we are grateful that each of you walked away from the accident with nothing more than a few minor injuries.
Lastly, to the friends and family members of the driver who was
injured in the accident, please know that the thoughts and prayers of the
entire Norwell community are with you in this time.
Principal, Norwell High School