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PennDOT - Statewide News

Wolf Administration Honors Students, School Bus Drivers at Pennsylvania Safety Awards Ceremony

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers joined Pennsylvania school bus safety advocates to honor twelve students for communicating important school bus safety messages, and six school bus drivers for their superior driving skills.

The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were recognized for their winning entries in the 2019 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year's contest - "Red Lights Mean STOP!" – reminds all drivers to stop for a bus with its lights flashing and stop arm extended.

"By using their talent and creativity, these young artists help us share important safety messages through their creations," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. "This year's creations reinforce the importance of obeying Pennsylvania's School Bus Stopping Law and stopping when a bus has its red lights flashing and stop are extended – a smart choice that can save lives."

This year's winners were chosen from over 1,000 student entries from schools across Pennsylvania. The first-place entries will be move on to the national competition, which will be judged at the end of this month.

2019 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners include:

Kindergarten – Grade 2

  • 1st Place: Nishika Chandupatla, Franklin Elementary School, Sewickley, Allegheny County
  • 2nd Place: Dreshad Eaton, Conneaut Valley Elementary School, Conneautville, Crawford County
  • 3rd Place: Izabella Eckenrode, from Saint Michael School, Loretto, Cambria County

Grades 3 – 5

  • 1st Place: Karlee Dwyer, Garnet Valley Elementary School, Glen Mills, Delaware County
  • 2nd Place: Payton Walters, Reiffton School, Reading, Berks County
  • 3rd Place: Leilyn Mozo, Reiffton School, Reading, Berks County  

Grades 6 – 8

  • 1st Place: Yanning (Maria) Jiao, Ingomar Middle School, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
  • 2nd Place: José Sandoval, Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School, Hazleton, Luzerne County
  • 3rd Place: Bradley Aucker, Sugar Valley Rural Charter School, Loganton, Clinton County

Special Education

  • 1st Place: Jacob Beecham, Trinity Area High School, Washington, Washington County
  • 2nd Place-: Andrew Knight, Trinity Area High School, Washington, Washington County
  • 3rd Place: Christopher Yeager, Trinity Area High School, Washington, Washington County

Additionally, PennDOT Bureau of Driver Licensing Director Kara Templeton and Trooper Zeina Black, Supervisor for the Permits and Bus Safety Unit of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Division of the Bureau of Patrol for the Pennsylvania State Police, presented certificates and governor's citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2019 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition. Held each June, the competition tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses.

"Bus drivers do an extraordinary job every day ensuring the safety of our children as they travel to and from school," said Black. "These drivers serve as a model for all school bus drivers and this recognition further reinforces the trust parents have in them."

2019 PA School Bus Driver Safety Competition Winners:

Conventional Bus

  • First Place:  Ruth Del Vecchio, Chester County; Krapf School Bus
  • Second Place:  Shanon O'Brien, Chester County; Krapf School Bus
  • Third Place:  Joanne Cowan; Chester County; Krapf School Bus

Transit Style Bus

  • First Place: Jim O'Toole, Delaware County; Haverford Township School District
  • Second Place: Beth McGowan, Montgomery County; Lower Merion School District
  • Third Place:  John Welsh, Montgomery County; Lower Merion School District

Governor Tom Wolf has proclaimed October 21-25 School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania.

For more information about school bus safety, visit PennDOT's highway safety website,, select the "Traffic Safety and Driver Topics" tab then select the "School Bus Safety" tab. The website also offers an interactive video illustrating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law.

MEDIA CONTACT: Craig Yetter, 717-705-1092

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