Jupiter High celebrates new school bus

Jupiter High’s special needs students were formally presented with their new school bus on Nov. 19 for their off-campus work program. After raising $107,000, including a $53,500 donation from Rob Thomson, the 22-year-old vehicle has finally been replaced with a 2021 upgraded bus. 

The students, along with their teacher, Helene McAfee, joined Dr. Colleen Iannitti, Thomson, and a WPTV Channel-5 news crew to officially welcome the new bus to Jupiter High. 

In the on-the-job training program, the special needs students visit restaurants, cinemas and local businesses that allow them to get job experience in the community, including the Furry Friends Clinic. However, getting to these businesses was a challenge as their 1998 vehicle lacked a wheelchair lift and air conditioning.

“I had students that I couldn’t bring with us before,” McAfee said. “We were out five days a week in the past, and the kids were getting all the different job training they need.” 

When Thomson heard that some students could not visit the job sites because they were in wheelchairs, he stepped up to help and matched every donation the program received for the new bus. He also has a special place in his heart for Jupiter High as a former Warrior and local realtor. When McAfee reached out to him last year about her bus situation, he didn’t hesitate to help. 

“I didn’t know anything about it until Mrs. McAfee…called me. She came to talk to me, and I thought, I want to see this bus, and they brought the [old] bus to show it to me. I went ‘I can’t just make a donation,’” Thomson said as his eyes filled with tears. 

Thomson said being part of this special project has meant a lot to him and has made him think about the importance of community involvement.

“They just needed the best expansion of transportation, not the worst. It just makes you think more about what you can do for the community,” Thomson said.