The bus stopped to let Ian onboard near his family’s home off Woodlawn Parkway.
Travis Werner, Ian’s father, trailed his soon-to-be kindergartner, who will begin school at Mt. Bethel Elementary on Monday.
He said the morning’s trial ride marked one of the first times Ian had ever carried a backpack.
“In kindergarten, they don’t exactly tote around a lot anyway,” Travis Werner joked.
Days before five- and six-year-olds step into the classroom for the first time, Cobb County school buses hit the streets to give kindergarteners and their parents a chance to practice their morning routine.
Buses all over the school district ran the routes they will service when school starts next week, delivering parents and children back to their stops Friday morning after showing the kindergarten and first-grade students where their bus will sit in the school’s parking lot.
Jay Dillon, spokesman for Cobb schools, said about 4,400 parents and students participated in the bus practice.
Dillon said the district’s buses transport 80,000 students on an average day. He said the Cobb schools counted 8,245 kindergartners in March 2014.
Rick Grisham, transportation director for Cobb schools, said 1,000 buses will be operating Monday.
He said the school district spends $46.6 million each year to operate its fleet of buses.
Grisham said first-time riders are often nervous before they board the bus.
“A normal reaction is fascination with sitting high above the other motorists, the color of the bus and the fact that so many students get to ride together,” Grisham said. “Riding with their friends assist in calming nerves, as does the repetition after the first few days.”
Spencer Hancotte, 6, and his parents, Sabina and John Hancotte, were the first three to board the bus to Mt. Bethel early Friday morning.
Spencer said he was excited for the first day of school.
His mother, who also has a 13-year-old son at Dickerson Middle School, said she doesn’t have the same first-day jitters she felt when her older child started kindergarten.
“It’s not my first kid. You’re less nervous,” Sabina Hancotte said. “But it’s still very exciting, and kindergarten is so awesome.”
Spencer said sports and playing with Legos are among his favorite activities.
“First, I played soccer. I was very good,” Spencer said. “Then, I played baseball. It turned out to be very fun.”
Sabina Hancotte said the family has lived in their house near Woodlawn Drive for 11 years.
Lucy Foresman, 5, and her father, Aaron Foresman, boarded the bus just one day after moving from Smyrna into the east Cobb neighborhood off Johnson’s Ferry Road.
“We’re very familiar with the area,” Aaron Foresman said. “We’re trying to make the transition, get her settled before school starts.”
Lucy, who cited coloring as her favorite pastime, said she likes her new house.
The students and parents at each stop were greeted by Tom Holt, the driver who has navigated the Mt. Bethel-bound route for seven and a half years.
“I’ve had kids I’ve driven since kindergarten, and they’re in the fourth or fifth grade now,” Holt said.
He said some first-time riders who cry on the way to school initially are often the bus’ biggest fans just a few weeks into the school year.
Virginia Grace Taylor, 5, and her mother, Rachel Taylor, said they baked cookies for Holt ahead of the first day of school.
Virginia Grace, who said she plays tennis and does cheerleading, is the second of her four siblings to join Holt’s bus route.
“He’s saved many lunch bags and jackets for us along the way,” Rachel Taylor said of Holt.
When Virginia Grace looked through the bus window at her new school for the first time, she made sure to ask the important questions.
“Where’s the playground?” she shouted.