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Transportation Dept Asst. Director brings home first place win in SCAPT Roadeo

A Florence 1 Schools employee was recently named the best school bus driver in the state. On April 30th, Brandi Wetzel, Assistant Director for the Florence 1 Transportation Department, brought home a first-place win in the South Carolina Association for Pupil Transportation (SCAPT) Roadeo. This annual event tests drivers on the skills that they use every day while transporting students to and from school.

The event was held at Lugoff-Elgin High School. Wetzel’s win comes in her very first year with the district.

“I am beyond excited for Mrs. Wetzel,” said Mitchell Washington, Director of Transportation for Florence 1. “It is an honor to see our Assistant Director place 1st place amongst all the other districts that competed. We won 1st place in the 2019-2020 school year and then the Roadeo was canceled due to COVID-19. This is the first Roadeo since then and to win 1st place again is amazing.”  

Washington estimates that between 15 and 20 districts took part in the 2022 competition. Wetzel competed in the 37 and a half foot bus division. The competition took most of the day Saturday, with participants covering several different areas of competition that included a classroom test and an obstacle course.

Competition categories included:

Knowledge:

- Written Exam 

- Pre-Trip

Skills:

- Stop Line 

- Alley Dock

- Right Hand Turn

- Diminishing Clearance

- Curb Drop off

- Serpentine

- Straight line

- Offset Alley

- Parallel Parking

“I was very surprised to learn I was the winner, as all the bus drivers were spectacular,” Wetzel said. “The written portion of the Roadeo had several difficult questions. For the driving portion, obstacles varied greatly, testing many different aspects of being behind the wheel.”  

Typically, the first-place winner represents the state at the National School Bus Roadeo. Unfortunately, due to COVID, and the fact that many states have canceled their 2022 competitions, the national competition has been postponed. The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) Safety Competition Committee plans to implement eligibility standards that will allow this year’s winners to compete next year, according to a statement issued by the organization.

Superintendent Richard O’Malley said that he is proud of Mrs. Wetzel and the entire Transportation Department team.

“Our Transportation Department works extremely hard every day,” O’Malley said. “I am glad to see them being recognized for the time and care they put in to making sure that our students get safely to and from school all year long.”