Catlett said members of the school’s department huddled “like a SWAT team” to distribute packages of tasks, activities, supplies and small gifts to the students who live on her street.
That operation was one of many that stuck with Catlett and inspired her dream of having the city’s school system have its own permanent community engagement bus—a dream that came true this month when the department unveiled the Super Cat Bus.
The Super Cat Bus will be the new home for the school department’s outreach programs, such as the Fredericksburg Alliance for Student Achievement’s annual spring start event, which brings food and SOL study materials to the Bragg Hill, Hazel Hill, and Heritage Park neighborhoods.
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In addition to special events, the plan is for the Super Cat Bus to go out to city neighborhoods on a regular basis, “taking the semester on the road,” Catlett said.
Equipped with WiFi and a large screen TV, the bus will carry information about the school department for parents and reading packages, resources and math for students.
Making the Super Cat Bus a reality was a collaboration between school staff, students, and the Fredericksburg Host Lions Club, which donated more than $30,000 to the project.
Catlett said she shared her idea for the bus with local club president Shirley Eye, a former teacher and manager, last year.
“Youth service is one of the areas of focus for the Lions Club organisation, and education is seen as a key component of this effort,” said local Lions Club spokesman Grant Gates. “With FHLC’s commitment to the City of Fredericksburg, this was an excellent opportunity to work with the public school system to help school children in this community.”
The local club board donated $10,000 to the project this year and raised an additional $28,000 through grants from the Lions Foundation of Virginia and Lions Clubs International.
Catlett said the club plans to use the Super Cat bus to conduct free vision checks for area kids.
Brian Kiernan, the school’s director of food services—following the same process he uses for his mobile food truck program—purchased a second-hand school bus in 2004 to convert to a Super Cat bus and worked with the school’s director of IT, Mike George, on the interior design.
Students in a carpentry class at J. completed full accessibility for special needs.
The FCPS held a department-wide competition in 2020, inviting students to create a logo for the bus. The board chose one winner from grades K-5 and one winner from grades 6-12.
Ken Crampton, the cafeteria director at Walker Grant Prep School, designed the bus wrap, incorporating the winning students’ designs, and installed by another local company, Illusions Wraps.
The bus’s name is a nickname for City Councilman Charlie Fry brought up by Catlett, who taught him in sixth grade, when she became the department manager.
It is a combination of the words ‘admin’ and ‘cattlet’.
Catlett said Delia Clayton Fulcher, student support specialist at Walker Grant Prep, was instrumental in bringing the Super Cat bus to life.
You will be responsible for working with each department school to develop a bus schedule for visiting city neighborhoods.
Expect to see the Super Cat Bus in town this fall.
Adele Uphaus Conner:
540 / 735-1973