Bus driver honored for potential life-saving act

Carson High School student Briana Sanchez with CTE coordinator Candi Ruf.

Carson High School student Briana Sanchez with CTE coordinator Candi Ruf.

The Carson City School District and Board of Trustees recognized Greg Hoeger, bus driver with the Carson City School District, with a certificate of merit Tuesday for his immediate attention and awareness that helped save the life of a student passenger.

“I am pleased this evening to present to you, Mr. Greg Hoeger, for meritorious service and recognition of your outstanding performance in preventing injury or death to a student who had exited your bus and had become a pedestrian,” Richard Stokes, superintendent for the school district, said during his report to the board. “By using the horn, you were able to warn the student of an approaching vehicle that was illegally passing the stopped bus.”

Kimberly Ponczoch, mother of the saved student Jinnie Ponczoch, witnessed the incident and contacted Stokes at the district office. She was so impressed with Hoeger’s ability to assess the situation and take the initiative to warn her child of the potentially lethal circumstance.

Ponczoch and Stokes agreed Hoeger’s actions warranted public acknowledgement. The report to the trustees provided all parties the opportunity to express their gratitude and appreciation for Hoeger’s alertness and overall concern for the well-being of each of his student passengers.

“I didn’t do anything different that most of our drivers do every day,” Hoeger said with much emotion. “I mean, we’re out there in that traffic, and it is tough. It’s really tough. The best we can do is just be alert, make sure our equipment is safe and try and get the children home…as best we can.”

In late November, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office indicated a hyperfocused effort in targeting bad drivers and pedestrians. Sheriff Ken Furlong said he had been hearing an outcry from community residents about the conduct of drivers and pedestrians, referring to inattentiveness with drivers and pedestrians on their phones, snacking and not obeying lights and signs.

Additionally, during the superintendent’s report, four Carson High School students were recognized as candidates for U.S. Presidential Scholars.

There were two categories for the recognition: academic and Career and Technical Education Presidential Scholars. CHS senior Sophia Peterson was selected for the academic category and the CTE candidates were CHS students Maritza Filson, Briana Sanchez and Crystal Vargas.

Twenty-three students from CTE initially were nominated by their CTE teachers. Filson, Sanchez and Vargas earned the candidacy as CHS U.S. Presidential Scholars based on their academic rigor, technical competencies, employability skills and ingenuity and creativity. For the CTE component, students were initially selected based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields.

Each school is able to nominate up to five candidates who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars candidacy requirements. Candidacy materials are mailed to the selected students, and they are invited to apply to the program.

To be considered further, candidates are required to submit application materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities and an analysis of their essay.

In late March 2019, 60 CTE semifinalists will be chosen by an independent, national committee of educators convened by the Commission on Presidential Scholars. In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will make the final selection.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the president, to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.

In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

Individual student bios:

Senior Maritza Filson is creating the planting and irrigation plan for the Carson City Community Garden in cooperation with the Greenhouse Project. She is also the Grow Chamber manager at Carson High School focusing on Urban Agriculture.

Senior Sophia Peterson spearheaded the Mock Trial program at Carson High School and has been Speech and Debate captain for two years. She received her certificate of Skill Attainment for Graphic Design and has studied for the past two summers at Middlebury College in Vermont, in an Arabic Immersion program.

Senior Briana Sanchez uses her leadership, collaboration and problem-solving skills as Cadet Commander of the NJROTC unit at Carson High School. Her work centers around inspiring, motivating and nurturing cadets’ commitment to the ideals and principles of NJROTC.

Senior Crystal Vargas created and proposed an Emergency Medical Preparedness Plan for Carson High School and established a partnership between the Carson High School HOSA chapter and the Nevada Medical Reserve Corp.


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