Words and Images by Jenny Lynn Davis
January 31, 2023.
It was a regular afternoon bus ride for Aidan Stacks, a student at Carbon Hill School in Carbon Hill, Alabama. Aidan was eager to get home and unwind from the long day at school but watched in confusion as the bus drove past the turn to his stop. The bus was being driven by a substitute driver unfamiliar with the route, and, being his usual helpful self, Aidan tried to assist with redirection.
However, things suddenly took a turn for the worse when an SUV collided with the bus.
Fortunately, all eight students on board and the bus driver were unharmed, but Aidan noticed smoke coming from the bus’s hood. He knew he had to act fast to ensure the continued safety of his fellow students and the driver. With a clear head and a sense of responsibility, Aidan sprang into action.
Applying knowledge learned during bus evacuation drills, Aidan calmly and quickly assisted the bus driver in evacuating six elementary-aged students and one other high school student from the bus as a fire started to spread from under the hood. He ensured all the children were accounted for and directed them to a safe distance from the bus.
When asked about his quick thinking and act of bravery, Aidan had only one thing to say, “it’s what I was supposed to do.”
The young man was raised to always do what is right and put others before himself and his selflessness has often been one of his standout qualities.
Jonathan Morrison, current principal of Carbon Hill Elementary School, knew Aidan from their shared time at Bankhead Middle School in Cordova, Alabama. When Morrison arrived at the bus accident scene to check on his students and saw Aidan, he felt confident that the small children had been cared for.
“Back when we were at Bankhead, I was the administrator conducting the bus evacuation drills, and I’d always tell the younger kids, ‘the older kids are going to take care of you,’ and I’d tell the older kids ‘make sure you take care of the younger kids and help them off the bus,’” said Morrison during the February meeting of the Walker County Board of Education. “Aidan had always been a helpful kid, and he took that advice to heart, and we’re just so proud of him and appreciative of what he did.”
Aidan will finish his schooling at Carbon Hill High School this May. He contemplates joining the United States Army National Guard following graduation, stating that ‘it’s a good way to make an impact on others.’ Even now, Aidan’s bravery and sense of responsibility demonstrate that, even in the face of danger, one person can make a significant impact, no matter how young. WL