Two rookie drivers placed in the top three at the Zone 5 (northwest) School Bus Roadeo in High Prairie on May 14 at High Prairie Regional Aquatic Centre.
Jamie Bilyk of High Prairie finished first among 20 drivers from High Prairie School Division, Northland School Division and Peace-Wapiti School Division of Grande Prairie.
Carmen Pelletier of the west end was second and Larry Auger of High Prairie finished third to advance to the provincial roadeo June 4 in Red Deer.
Bilyk and Auger started to drive bus last November while Pelletier has been driving for 28 years.
Mary Read of the west end, finished fourth, ahead of Candace Barber of High Prairie and Myrna Lanctot of the west end.
“Everyone had fun and exhibited their skill set to 12 challenging events,” says co-ordinator Harry Davis, director of transportation for HPSD, who co-ordinated and initiated the event, the first since 2000.
“I received lots of comments from drivers and enforcement officers that they want to hold this as an annual event.”
Next year, he plans to stage the roadeo at the school division headquarters with the parking lot paved this summer.
Davis also expects more drivers and school divisions will participate.
Top winners said their results were unexpected but impressive as they put their skills to the test.
“I felt comfortable during the event,” Bilyk says.
“You learn something new every day to add to your skills.”
Auger was delighted.
“I’m happy and proud of myself,” Auger says.
“I thought I wasn’t going to do very well.”
For longtime drivers, it was new and challenging.
“It wasn’t’ the road test that scared me, it was the written test and the pre-trip inspection,” says Pelletier.
“It was tons of fun.”
Drivers completed a written examination, and were also evaluated on their skills that included offset alley, railroad crossing, straight line, diminishing clearance, back-up test, right turn, curb line, parallel parking, student loading and stop line.
Davis appreciated the work of Candace Baker, organized the event and the High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board for use of the aquatic centre parking lot.