Orange County

Chapel Hill-Carrboro student gets a surprise while hitching a ride to school

One Phoenix Academy high school student didn’t take the bus to get to the first day of classes Monday in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system. The student, who got on and then off the wrong bus, instead hitchhiked a ride with CHCCS Superintendent Pam Baldwin.
One Phoenix Academy high school student didn’t take the bus to get to the first day of classes Monday in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system. The student, who got on and then off the wrong bus, instead hitchhiked a ride with CHCCS Superintendent Pam Baldwin. File photo

Superintendent Pam Baldwin and an employee picked up a high school-age hitchhiker Monday morning.

Baldwin and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district spokesman Jeff Nash had just left Carrboro High School while doing first-day-of-school visits when Nash spotted a young woman walking on South Greensboro Street in Carrboro.

“I said to the superintendent, I wonder if she missed her bus,” said Nash, who was driving. “So we swooped around and said, hey, do you need a ride and picked her up. She said yeah ... We just said, well, get in, we’ll take you over there.”

Jeff Nash
Jeff Nash Contributed

The student told them she was headed to Phoenix Academy but had caught the wrong Chapel Hill Transit bus, Nash said. She got off the bus and had started walking, getting about a half-mile from the campus before they spotted her, he said.

Phoenix Academy is next to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district offices on South Merritt Mill Road in Chapel Hill.

Nash said they didn’t think anything more of it once they knew what was going on. The student got to school before most of her classmates did, he said.

Pam Baldwin
Pam Baldwin Contributed

“We were talking to her as we were driving over and asked if she had been at Phoenix before. She said, no, this was her first year,” Nash said. “She only needed three classes, and she could take them in the first semester and be done and graduate in January. That was her plan, and it sounded pretty reasonable to me.”

The opening of Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools on Monday was uneventful, Nash said, particularly following the district’s issues with school bus routes last year.

Baldwin’s Monday tour took them to the district’s bus garage and 13 schools for about 20 minutes each, he said. They planned to hit the other seven on Tuesday, he said. Six of those schools have new principals this year, he added.

“It’s a new superintendent coming out there to thank people for what they’re doing, greet some of the students ... (and) once school was up and running, pop into a few classrooms, maybe go around to the cafeteria or wherever there’s groups of people, and just say hi,” he said. “Talk to a few parents, and get back in the car and go to the next one.”

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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