There is a certain routine that seems to guide most high school academic team competitions. Teams show up early in the morning, still groggy from waking much earlier than they would have wanted to on an average Saturday. They then compete against other teams from across the state for the greater part of the day. Late in the afternoon they trudge back to their bus for the long ride home. The Crusader Academic Team was rudely broken from that routine this Saturday, November 7th, when they saw their bus was in flames, before they boarded it to return home.
“Well, we came outside after our competition and we were going to come back home on the bus,” said senior Stephen Hirsch. “The whole fire thing kinda put a damper on that.The bus was really smoking away. I wasn’t about to get anywhere near that thing.”
The story of the smoking bus was widespread throughout the Helias community by early Monday morning. Even those who had previously not known of the Academic Team’s competition at Salem High School were readily aware of the fiery coach bus.
“Of course I’ve heard about the bus catching on fire. Who hasn’t?” said Conner Clogston. “I’m not really sure who’s bus it was or where they were, which is kinda embarrassing.”
Some of those who had heard of the Academic Team’s plight were confused as to who was actually at the competition. Little to none of the people who were interviewed had any idea of how successful the Saders were early Saturday.
“Yeah, I heard that the Speech Team’s bus caught on fire, for sure,” said Alex Peppard. “I don’t really know anything other than that.” When corrected as to which team was involved and questioned if he knew how his few students did, Peppard responded, “Well I thought it was the Speech Team. And no, I don’t know how they did.”
The bus wasn’t the only thing on fire Saturday morning, as the varsity and JV Academic Team walked away with first place under their belts. The Crusaders had nine individual medalists at the competition as well.
“I was feeling like it would be a pretty memorable day for sure after we got first,” said Hirsch. “It’s definitely a day I won’t forget for a while. It’s not everyday your bus catches fire. I just wish more people would know about it because of our success, and not just because our bus happened to catch fire.”