A team of bus drivers tested their skills behind the wheel last week at the 27th annual School Bus Safety Competition, also referred to as the Bus Rodeo. The rodeo was held at the Chester County Center for Arts and Technology Brandywine facility in Coatesville.

Drivers Jim Wanstall and Shawnee Schreiber finished fourth and sixth respectively, with the entire Kennett team finishing fifth in the county.

Wanstall has driven for Krapf for the past five years and for the district since January. It is his first year to move on to the next level but he has competed in the past.

Schreiber is also Krapf employee who has been driving school buses for 19 years, 15 of those as a substitute driver for the Kennett district (she also doubles as dispatcher). This is her fifth year competing in the rodeo and her fourth time moving on to the state level. Several other Krapf drivers are also moving onto the state competition next month.

The rodeo is divided up in to several different events like height judgment, parallel parking, controlled right turns and a written examination, to name a few.

Each event comes with an explanation, the instructions on how to perform the test and the scoring (each event has a total point value).

Many of the events are designed to mirror actual driving situations while others, like the written exam and the bus inspection (where drivers are given five minutes to find five things wrong with their bus) test a drivers overall safety knowledge.

Schreiber said that although she enjoys the competition and always has fun, she's also learned a thing or two in the process. And that's exactly what the rodeo is all about.

"It really does make you a better driver," Schreiber said. "The first year I competed, it was a real eye-opener for me."

Schreiber said that one occasion, while on a run, she entered an alley that immediately reminded her of the offset alley event, where the driver's ability to drive through two offset lanes with a minimum of hesitation and without touching the "barriers" is tested.

"If I hadn't done that [the offset alley event], I wouldn't know have known what to do, and that's the goal of all."

The entire competition is presided over by state and local police on a volunteer basis and is sponsored by the Chester County Transportation Association.

For her part, Schreiber cannot wait for the state competitions, which are held on June 24 at Mt. Nittany Middle School in State College. According to Schreiber, the challenges are essentially the same, but the difficulty increases.

"I'm very excited," Scheriber said. " I'd like to do well. Each year I like to do a little better than I did the year before and so far I have."

Kennett's site operations manager Sue Kramer said that they're proud of all 15 of the team members who competed and hopes that Wanstall and Schreiber move on to nationals.

"If they to well, they'll go to Lake Tahoe for nationals, so we're wishing them well," Kramer said.

And although Unionville-Chadds Ford sent a team of seven drivers to compete at the rodeo, they did not move on to the state level.

"Unfortunately, they didn't get that far," said U-CF transportation department office manager Dot Shaw. "But we're still very proud of them and it's always a fun event."

Kramer said that their department is excited about the state competition and that they're all proud of their drivers.

"They all did a wonderful job," Kramer said. "We can't wait until June."

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