The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 14, 2013

Alabama school board honors students for courage during bus invasion

MONTGOMERY — In an emotional ceremony, the Alabama superintendent of schools presented proclamations Thursday to each of the students who were on their school bus when a gunman forcibly abducted a schoolmate and killed their driver

Choking back tears, Tommy Bice said the children displayed safety skills that were taught to them by Charles "Chuck" Poland, Jr., the school bus driver who was killed saving their lives on January 29th.

Poland fought off Jimmy Lee Dykes as he boarded bus in Midland City, affording the kids the opportunity to escape through emergency exits.

As the elementary students were told they displayed compassion and bravery, some made sideward glances at Ethan Gilman, the now-6-year-old kindergartener who was seized by Dykes.

Ethan looked down, wiggling quietly under the protective grasp of Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum, who stood just behind him. He listened as Bice recounted how the students loved their bus driver. He clutched a handmade drawing of a car and smiled when he was handed a blue folder with his proclamation inside.

Ethan was 5 when Dykes snatched him from the bus and held him in an underground bunker for nearly a week. The standoff ended when law enforcement officers shot Dykes multiple times. They were able to rescue Ethan who was uninjured.

Bice lauded Poland who he said "gave his life so each of the children could grow into the lives they were meant to have."

The students, dressed in their best, left the ceremony to meet Gov. Robert Bentley in his office.

Later, as reporters asked Bice about a piece of contentious legislation that will affect schools, Bice told them that the ceremony "grounds us back to the main thing, our students. It keeps us focused on what's important."

Poland's heroism was also honored by proclamation. A permanent memorial to him has been installed at the Department of Education headquarters in Montgomery.

 

1
Text Only
State and Nation
Poll

What is your favorite Easter candy?

Chocolate bunnies
Marshmallow chicks
Chocolate eggs with filling
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee