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School bus drivers deliver daily meals, schoolwork to ConVal students

  • Kevin Brace and Ken Simonetta, bus drivers for ConVal Regional School District, have been delivering meals and school packets to Peterborough children. Courtesy photo

  • Kevin Brace and Ken Simonetta, bus drivers for ConVal Regional School District, have been delivering meals and school packets to Peterborough children. Courtesy photo

  • Kevin Brace and Ken Simonetta, bus drivers for ConVal Regional School District, have been delivering meals and school packets to Peterborough children. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/11/2020 4:10:07 PM

Team Honey Badger is on the move, delivering meals, homework, and a smile to the kids once on their bus route.

Kevin Brace and Ken Simonetta are drivers for Student Transportation of America, the bussing company that drives for the ConVal Regional School District. With students learning at home, you wouldn’t think there was a big call for bus driving at the moment, but Brace and Simonetta do a daily three-hour route, dropping off school breakfasts and lunches to Peterborough school kids.

Simonetta does the driving, and Brace runs the meals to the doors. Brace said the two were happy to volunteer to continue driving, when their boss, Amy Wing, contacted her drivers to see who might be willing to take up the task.

“Some people that I work with are older, or are high risk, and even though they wanted to, couldn’t,” Brace said. “Ken and I signed up.”

As parents and the district have gotten organized, there have been more students signed onto the program. When remote learning started, Brace and Simonetta, who have dubbed themselves “Team Honey Badger,” – referencing an internet meme that nothing stops a honey badger – were delivering 27 meals every day. Now, they are doing 71 meals every day, plus work packets for 30 elementary schoolers, and 26 packages every other week from the district’s End 68 Hours of Hunger program.

“We’ve delivered during rain, sleet, and snow. We’ve dodged deer and turkeys,” Brace said. “We nicknamed ourselves “The Honey Badgers” because no matter what nature or life throws at us, we don’t care. Feeding kids is our number one priority.”

Brace said that there has been at least one weather day that school probably would have been called off, but the bus set out in the storm anyway.

“Normally, we don’t drive in inclement weather like that. But Ken handled the traffic and the snow like a pro,” Brace said. That’s where the joke of their team name originated, Brace said – when the two noted that whether they were facing a pandemic or a snowstorm, they didn’t care, and just needed to get the job done.

Brace said some of the kids they are delivering to are on his or Simonetta’s regular routes, and some not, but all have shown gratitude. They get waves when they drop of lunches, and have received cards and gifts as well.

“It’s like getting a boost of adrenaline every time we see it,” Brace said.

And they’re prepared to continue on, even after the last day of school. The district has already decided to continue to provide meals for students through June 30, though the last day of school is May 29. Brace said making sure the kids that need it continue to get fed is his only priority.


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