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Pendergast District recycles a school bus to create a critical thinking, escape room experience


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  • Nedda Shafir/ Pendergast Elementary School District

Pendergast School District Transformed A Retired School Bus To Create The Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room Bus For Students In Grades 3-8 In The District And For Adults To Enjoy. Photo Courtesy Pendergast School District

Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux, superintendent of the Pendergast District, had the bright idea to recycle a retired school bus with an innovative notion. Why not transform the bus and create the Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room bus for students in grades 3-8 in the district and for adults to enjoy?

This unique bus made its debut at the Pendergast staff kick-off on July 26 at Palm Valley Church.

The Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room bus is based on a one-room schoolhouse that has undergone a complete exterior and interior transformation. With faux brick walls, wood floors, antique design and authentic props, it is sure to spark conversation around the dinner table with grandparents who just may have memories of learning in this environment.

Pendergast District recycles a school bus to create a critical thinking, escape room experience escapethebus172418

Pendergast School District transformed a retired school bus to create the Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room Bus for students in grades 3-8 in the district and for adults to enjoy. Photo courtesy Pendergast School District

As students and their teachers enter, they will be given the following information:

“It’s the early 1900s and its time to go to school. You and your school chums would rather be at the swimming hole or fishing or anything else but be in school. The teacher is a strict old bird. She doesn’t allow for any messing around. When she takes her morning break under the willow tree you and your buddies figure it’s the perfect time to sneak out but she’s got a bell on the door and will hear if you open it. You and your mates have to find another way out before she returns in 45 minutes or you will be stuck here all day doing school work.”

Dr. DeBlieux, known for her creative spark, shares, “I approached one of our partners, GCON, about the idea and they signed on to design and build it. Students will use our curriculum including: critical thinking skills, language arts, math, and more to make learning come alive! Thankfully, along with my team, we were able to try it out and escape the bus.”

According to Tiffany Fisher, Director of Public Works for GCON, “The Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room Bus has been an amazing project for GCON to help sponsor. It is exciting to see an idea of Dr. DeBlieux’ come to fruition with the help of our in-house designer and our construction team. Knowing that we helped create something fun, exciting and educational for the kids makes it all worth it. We hope it will be challenging for all from 3rd to 8th grade and for the community at large. The participants will experience teamwork at its best, along with problem solving and time management. The best part is the puzzle can be changed out to a new puzzle with very little time and expense. GCON couldn’t be more excited to be sponsoring such a fun project for the students and the community as a wonderful learning activity.”

You can find out more information about the Pendergast Puzzle Escape Room Bus including how you can rent it for your own events on the Pendergast website at www.pesd92.org or by contacting Amy Christopher at achristopher@pesd92.org or 623-772-2294.