The winners of the state championship recently qualified for the 42nd Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition hosted by the National School Transportation Association on July 14–15 in Milwaukee, Wis.
"School bus drivers and other classified employees are absolutely integral not only to the operations of their school district but also they often make a real difference in the lives of the kids they serve," Torlakson said. "They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic members of their school communities, and they make the safety of our children their top priority."
California bus drivers will compete in the following categories: Conventional Bus: Jana Graham, Student Transportation of America; and Brent Carman, Morgan Hill Unified School District; Small Bus: Mallory Gray, Student Transportation of America; and Eleanor Taylor, Monterey County Office of Education; and Transit Bus: Antonio Perez, San Dieguito Union High School District; and Rene Hildenbrand, First Student, Inc., Santa Rosa.
School bus drivers from across the U.S. and Canada will demonstrate their expertise during the NSTA competition, which begins with a written exam, before contestants get behind the wheel of a bus to showcase their driving skills,. Winners are recognized at the annual awards banquet that closes the weekend event.
The competition started out as the National School Bus Safety Roadeo in 1971 and has continued for more than 30 years. Across the country, school bus drivers compete in regional competitions, such as the California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO) State Championship Roadeo, which took place May 27. Similar to the national competition, drivers went head to head using their skills in precision driving with an emphasis on safety.
The 2012 CASTO State Championship Roadeo Winners are: First Place: Antonio Perez, San Dieguito Union High School District, whose awards include top three and top five finishes in local competitions; five first-place finishes in the Southern Sectionals; and three State Championship titles. Second Place: Christopher Bates, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, a dispatcher for the district’s Transportation Department, has been competing in Roadeos since 1992. Third Place: Douglas Smith, Snowline Joint Unified School District, who has won first and second place finishes at sectionals and state championships and made the top 10 in the International School Bus Safety Roadeo competitions in 2009 and 2011. Special Needs: Robelyn Concillado Watson, San Diego Unified School District, who finished with first-place awards at the CASTO State Championships in 2011 and 2012. Team Competition: Les Johnson, Stephanie Oliver and Mallory Gray of Student Transportation of America.