Explaining the Grad Bash Bus 6 debacle

Hailey Le Roy

On Friday, April 1, seniors celebrated their final days of high school at Universal’s Grad Bash, but one group of students did not get to enjoy the experience to its full capacity.

   Typically, Grad Bash lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., giving students around six hours to explore Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Newsome kids were supposed to leave the school at 4:30 in the afternoon to be outside the park’s gates by 7 p.m. Students on Bus 6, however, were not given that opportunity, as their bus was three hours late.

   Six buses were allotted to the 305 students participating in the event, with each bus fitting 51 kids and four chaperones. One after the other, the first five buses pulled into the student parking lot to commute students starting at 4:30, until the last 51 kids remained. Eventually, teacher James Govreau, the coordinator of this event, was told by the bus company that Bus Six was having mechanical issues. 

   Knowing that the bus was still significantly behind, students were told they could go and get food. Many went to the McDonalds across the street. They were told to come back around 6:30 p.m. when the bus was allegedly thirty minutes away. However, they ended up waiting for another hour.

   At this point, Govreau was still in continuous communication with the bus company, trying to figure out what was wrong with the bus.

   “No one was telling me the exact real story,” Govreau said.

   Eventually, it came out that the issue was not concerning the mechanics of the bus, but a lack of drivers. The company had not hired someone to drive that bus and were scrambling to send someone to Lithia.

   At 7:30, the final bus showed up. Students were finally able to load, but Madelyn Hennings, a student on Bus 6, says it was obvious the bus had just come from another event. There was an abundance of belongings that had to be moved out the way for Newsome students to sit.

   “I could tell a lot of people were angry,” Hennings said.

   Even after the bus arrived at Universal, a significant amount of time passed before the late students were actually in the park. The original gate where the on-time students were ushered into the park was closed. Students were forced to wait another thirty minutes for a different, Universal bus to transport them to the City Walk entrance.

   Govreau was the last person from Newsome to get inside Universal. He looked at his watch when he finally got into the park: 10:33 p.m.

   Students who were on Bus 6 had to scramble to meet up with their friends who had been in the parks for hours. It was not until around 11 p.m. when Hennings was able to hang out with her friends.

   Ryan Smith, another student on Bus 6, says he only got to go on three rides, “We spent [$138] for three hours.”

   Hillsborough County lawyers are currently working with the bus company to ensure Bus 6 will be taken out of the school’s expenses. Students on the bus will be refunded the $50 that went towards the bus fare.

   Overall, Govreau said the situation was incredibly chaotic. He is grateful the students on Bus 6 were understanding of the situation, “It was a mess, but the kids were actually amazing.”