Just after I drove into the school parking lot with the students on the agreed-upon morning, Mrs. Reid boarded the bus and explained that the school was experiencing a terrible water leak. There would be no school, so I was told to take the students home. Students who didn’t have adult supervision at home were to be taken to the middle school, where they could watch movies and eat pizza.
I proceeded to take the children home. As soon as we were out of her sight, she called me on the two-way radio – as we had planned – and asked me to return to school because she had more information to share.
The children sitting up front could easily hear what Mrs. Reid had said. I had passed on her comments to everyone else via the bus’s public address system.
When we pulled back into the parking lot, Mrs. Reid boarded the bus. In unison, she and I faced the students and exclaimed, “APRIL FOOLS!” The children were stunned and silent for about 30 seconds before they started saying things like, “You’re kidding. I just called my parents on my cellphone.”
We told them to make another call to their parents and tell them about the prank.
As the students got off the bus, I was told several times that what we did was mean and nasty and that we shouldn’t do things like that to kids. But all of them were laughing as they tried to act mad.
Because the practical joke worked so well, I later approached Mrs. Reid, who had been promoted to principal, and Vice Principal Jina Hackman in 2012 about doing it again. We reviewed the plan, which didn’t seem to need many adjustments. ... and enjoyed the same humorous result.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.