Published Jan. 29, 2024
BY IMOGEN NICHOLSON
Going to Carmel High School is a whole different way of life for students who live in Cachagua, a rural area that is a 20-30 minute drive from Carmel Valley Village, due to a long bus drive with an average of 50 minutes each way and weather conditions that are highly unpredictable and often dangerous.
Roads are often windy and steep due to the mountainous area. Buses can face huge storms that can collapse roads, forcing buses to take alternative routes. Landslides, downed trees and power outages can also occur.
There are currently 41 students at CHS that live in Cachagua, according to the CHS attendance office. Many of these students find it difficult to complete homework on the bus ride home. This is due to not having any Wi-Fi, windy roads and noisy teenagers around them. Some students that live walking distance from school may be able to go home and continue their work from school. Students who have a long time to travel may lose the concentration they need to start their homework when finally getting home from school.
“On the bus I usually sleep or talk to my friends around me,” freshman Brandon Corro-Guerrero says.
Bridget Randazzo, who teaches student and college support classes, finds that students in Cachagua have a hard time working with the little time they have.
“It’s definitely more of a struggle just because of the time, to make sure [they] get everything done,” Randazzo says. “It probably affects everyone individually. Some people use the time to just chill out and relax. I’ve heard some people say, ‘Oh you can do the homework on the bus.’ I would never be able to do my homework on the bus. I would be so sick, especially on those windy roads. Most people I don’t think could do it.”
Cachagua students have a school day consisting of nine hours because of the two-hour drive to and from school. That is not including sports, homework or the time spent getting ready for school, making it longer than an average work day for adults.
“The bus ride is very long,” sophomore Jorge Mendez says. “After riding the bus I have very little time to complete my homework.”
If students take the bus in the morning, they may have to leave the house as early as 6:10 a.m, Martinez says. The bus, which arrives at the high school around 7:35 a.m., is usually relatively quiet until it approaches Carmel Valley, when it will get very crowded.
In Mendez’s experience, the bus was often late last year due to trees falling down. Cachagua parents also mention the inconvenience of how last year a tree was down, and buses couldn’t get to certain spots. This led to many parents having to take their own students to school.
If students play sports, they may have to leave practice early to ride the late bus and can miss up to 30 minutes. Commonly, sports will start later than when school ends, resulting in students having to do homework in the library instead of being able to go home and walk back to practice. Since the library closes at 4 p.m., students are left to work outside, where the conditions can be distracting.
After school, students get on the bus at 3 p.m., and some students can get back home as late as 4:40 p.m. Students who ride the bus to Cachagua have very little time to complete their homework, let alone time to socialize with their friends and family or have any free time for activities on a school day.
“Because of the 50-minute drive,” sophomore Alan Martinez says, “riding the bus gives me less time to do my homework when I get home.”