School Buses May Soon Come with Seat Belts

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The days of school bus passengers riding unencumbered by seat belts may soon be over. This week, the federal National Transportation Safety Board made a recommendation to state agencies that new, larger buses should come equipped with lap and shoulder belts, as well as automatic emergency braking and anti-collision systems.

Traditionally, most large school buses have allowed students to ride without being secured in their seats. That’s because the buses are designed to surround passengers with shock-absorbing, high-backed seats spaced closely together, an approach referred to as "compartmentalization." In an accident, kids would be insulated in an egg-carton type of environment and prevented from hitting a dashboard or window. For smaller buses—usually defined as weighing 10,000 pounds or less—belts are standard.

The Safety Board’s conclusion comes at a time when recent bus crashes—including one with two fatalities that took place in New Jersey just last week—have reopened discussion as to whether larger buses need belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains that the compartmentalization of larger buses provides adequate safety, while the American Academy of Pediatrics argues that belts should be mandatory on all buses in the event of high-speed collisions or rollovers, where the high-back seats would offer less protection.

For now, the National Transportation Safety Board’s suggestion is just that—a suggestion. No states are required to follow the advice, and there’s considerable expense involved in retrofitting older buses with belts. Currently, eight states require seat belts on large buses.

[h/t ABC News]

A Handful of Lucky College Students Live With Senior Citizens in This Minnesota Mansion

vadimguzhva/iStock via Getty Images
vadimguzhva/iStock via Getty Images

When Winona State University student Ashley McGaw skateboards home after a long day of nursing classes, she’s greeted by an unusual entourage: the elderly residents of a Minnesota assisted living facility called Senior Living at Watkins.

According to WFAA, McGaw and several other college kids live there with 45 seniors as part of Winona Health’s “Students in Residence" program, in which students volunteer their time with residents in exchange for discounted rent. For 10 volunteer hours per month, it’s $400, and doubling your hours drops it to just $200 per month. Not only does that include meals, it also gives students the chance to forgo the usual college dorm building for the stately glamour of an old mansion—their rooms are located in the historic Watkins Manor House, which is attached to the assisted living facility.

For freshman Joel Olson, the opportunity seemed like a no-brainer.

“'All you have to do is spend some time with some really nice people?'” he remembers thinking, according to KARE 11. “Of course!”

As for how they spend that time, it’s up to the students. Graduate student Laura Jensen hosts weekly crocheting sessions, nursing student Hanna Rottier offers manicures, and bulletin boards advertise free tech support.

And, in return for sharing their time and talents, students get to experience the familial affection and grandparental concern that’s often scarce on a college campus.

“They all mother me,” Jensen tells KARE 11 about the members of her crocheting club. “They take care of me.”

Winona Health assisted living director Cheryl Krage sees evidence of this, too.

“I hear residents wondering how the students are doing with their studies,” Winona Health assisted living director Cheryl Krage tells KARE 11. “‘Are you eating enough, are you getting enough fruits and vegetable[s]?"

According to the program page on Winona Health’s website, the program is especially beneficial to students looking to enter the healthcare industry, whether that’s medical school, nursing, social work, rehabilitative therapy, or even music therapy.

It also keeps senior citizens connected to the next generation in a deeper way.

“Helps us stay young – ger,” senior resident Diane Sheldon told KARE 11.

[h/t WFAA]

Le Double Fond Just Became France’s First Official School For Magicians

fergregory/iStock via Getty Images
fergregory/iStock via Getty Images

At night, Le Double Fond is a charming Parisian bar where the whole family can enjoy bites and beverages with a side of magic tricks. During the day, however, the venue transforms into a school for the next generation of magicians.

Though Dominique Duvivier and his daughter Alexandra have been training students by day and entertaining patrons by night since founding the establishment in 1988, they just achieved a new level of status: France’s Ministry of Labor has recognized Le Double Fond as an official magic academy.

According to Reuters, the certification elevates the institution to the level of other performing arts schools and legitimizes it as a form of post-high school education. For 18-year-old Thomas Bioret, the prospect of a diploma was the reason he decided to enroll in the three-month program instead of continuing on a path to becoming a professional croupier.


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Before joining Le Double Fond (which translates to “The False Bottom”), Bioret practiced magic in his spare time and even organized high school productions. Now he spends 35 hours a week in the basement of the restaurant learning magic tricks, the history of magic, practical management skills, and more.

“It’s really engrossing—you don’t notice the day go by,” Bioret told Reuters. “Sure, it’s 35 hours a week with lots of travel, lots of homework, but the time passes at crazy speed.”

With Le Double Fond's new standing as a government-recognized institution comes opportunities for public funding, which will hopefully help alleviate the financial burden on aspiring magicians who can’t afford to pay for the three-month course, which costs a little over $16,500.

Looking to learn a little magic without moving to Paris? Here are 15 magic tricks you didn’t know you could do.

[h/t Reuters]

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