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CHC Fire Academy’s Class 107 Celebrates Triumph Through the Storm Skip to main content

Publish Date: Jan. 30, 2023

Cadets on stage

Photo: 107th Fire Academy Cadets.

CHC Fire Academy’s Class 107 Celebrates Triumph Through the Storm For Grace Shumate, becoming part of the fire service is not just a career, it’s her calling.

From day one, Shumate and fellow Crafton Hills College Fire Academy cadets were faced with a laundry list of challenges, from evolutions to scenario-based trainings inside burn boxes that simulated what it was like to fight fires in enclosed spaces.

With such daunting obstacles behind them, the Academy 107 class was able to celebrate another milestone in their budding careers: Graduation Day.

“It was these times that tested our courage and communication,” said Shumate during the special event held inside the Finkelstein Performing Arts Center on Dec. 16. “Throughout this academy, I have come to realize that iron sharpens iron, and there’s something remarkable about surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who have an eagerness to dedicate their lives on behalf of others.”

CHC Fire Academy Chief Mike Alder lead the ceremony, which was attended by excited family members, friends, and supporters. While each ceremony is different, the celebration has been anchored by tradition, including the awarding of the class plaque that will soon hang with those of previous academies on the fire station walls, and announcing student scholarships. Traditionally, the Academy invites a guest speaker to share encouraging remarks and stories from their careers. However, Alder said he and his team decided to change this tradition by inviting a student , Grace Shumate, to the podium to tell her story.

“One hundred and 24 days later, I believe we have been given the [right] tools… to fight the good fight,” Shumate said, adding, “You are unstoppable. Remember this is bigger than stopping fires. [And] as you put on your gear, remember to have a ‘no quit’ attitude… and as you prepare to enter the flames, remember your training.”

Class 107’s motto was “Through the Storm,” and staying “dry” through the “rains” they did -- from sacrificing time away from friends and loved ones to losing a beloved member of the Academy family, Lead Ladder Instructor Mike Horton. When asked by Alder to “leave something behind,” this year’s class did so by showcasing their hard work in a video highlight reel with a soundtrack amplifying an inspiring message. The video was dedicated to the memory of Horton, who died in November 2022.

Every little thing they did was above and beyond what they had to do,” Alder said when referring to the video and class plaque.

Before Class 107 was dismissed for the last time, Alder presided over the awarding of scholarships and awards:


  • The Mike Orland and Terri Wallen scholarships – Grace Shumate
  • The Dave Golder Scholarship – Gunnar De Soto
  • The Leroy Balch Scholarship – Rudy Beltran
  • The David Avila Scholarship – Jonathan Soden


  • Highest Academic Achievement – Ishwar Persaud
  • Most Inspirational Cadet – Ethan Ruiz
  • Instructors’ Award – Grace Shumate

The Fire Academy at Crafton Hills College is one of the premier fire academies in Southern California. Students complete an 18-unit course filled with various in-class lectures and hands-on training. Two full-time academies are held each year, and students are required to be on-site from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and occasional Wednesdays. Applications are accepted year-round. To learn more about the program and/or to contribute to future Academy classes through monetary donations, visit www.