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Shady Side Academy Seniors Convert School Bus Into RV For Cross-Country Road Trip

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- After being stuck at home for most of the school year, two local high school students had an overwhelming desire to get out and explore the country.

They found their inspiration on social media in the form of a big, yellow school bus.

"I had a lot of friends that said, 'You're never going to be able to finish that project. That's way too much,'" said Max Ferrari.

"My mom was very skeptical at first," said Jack Thornton. "There was a lot of convincing going on."

school bus road trip
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Ferrari and Thornton are recent graduates of Shady Side Academy. As seniors, they had the option to complete a project before graduation. They could've chosen just about anything. And they went really big.

"I've been seeing these people on social media turn these buses into RVs. How cool would that be? That'd be an awesome project to do during COVID, during quarantine," said Ferrari.

They started searching online last fall before finding the perfect school bus in McKeesport. They bought it, painted it blue and named it "Bessie."

"Designing the inside of the bus was a project in of itself because you have to a lot of things to make use of the limited space you really have," Ferrari said.

The two ripped everything out inside and either bought or built what they needed. From their family room to the kitchen to putting a floor down and building bunk beds.

"We built the bunk beds out of just 2x4s and composite sheets," Ferrari said.

They did just about everything to make it a house on wheels because that's what it'll be for Ferrari, Thornton and two friends for the next few months. In about a week, they'll be taking "Bessie" cross country. Their first stop is Chicago.

"From Chicago, we're going down Route 66 to California. From there, we'll be in LA, go to San Francisco," said Thornton.

"Just go on a big road trip and explore. There is so much America out there that I haven't personally seen that I would love to," added Ferrari.

A trip they describe as exciting and even a bit scary, but one that will be more than worth it.

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