Senior graduates high school while working as volunteer firefighter

Volunteer firefighter and recent high school graduate Samantha Sparrows-Bagley.
Volunteer firefighter and recent high school graduate Samantha Sparrows-Bagley.

by Christy Parrott
Local high school senior Samantha Sparrows-Bagley will graduate with her diploma from Colorado Connections Academy while earning her stripes as a firefighter. For two years, Sparrows-Bagley has been volunteering as a fire fighting candidate with Hot Sulphur Springs Parshall Fire Protection Division. She made the decision to attend Colorado Connections Academy, an online based homeschool, so that she could fulfill her educational requirements while pursuing her goal of becoming a firefighter, following the footsteps of her father, Travis Bagley. “Samantha watched her dad work for the Kremmling fire department and wanted to volunteer,” mother Tonya Bagley explains.

Travis Bagley shares, “It has been amazing watching her grow up and chose the fire service. It’s an awesome path to follow, and few things have the rewarding feeling from serving your neighbors. While we are not on the same department, for now, we have shared multiple trainings. Experiencing these moments with your own next generation, the beginning of a family legacy, it’s amazing. She is learning a lot and taking to it very well. I would be honored to have her on the same incident one day.”

Samantha Sparrows-Bagley is well on her way to joining her father and the rest of the firefighting team. “I love being able to help out more than I would in other types of situations,” Sparrows-Bagley says. While age restrictions have prevented her from participating in a few aspects of fire fighting, such as entering a burning structure, Sparrows-Bagley has participated in pack testing (the completion of a 3-mile trek while fully geared in under 45 minutes), extrication, CPR, first aid, and assisted with ice-rescue training, as well as being on call for accidents, such as rollovers. “Anything a firefighter does, she does too,” Travis Bagley says. Moreover, Samantha Sparrows-Bagley has completed two years of college courses, which include classes in fire science.

While attending school at CCA, Sparrows-Bagley has also taken courses at Pikes Peak Community College and Colorado Mountain College. The flexibility of CCA allows for Sparrows-Bagley to complete her high school curriculum within a few hours each day, giving her time to attend college as well as train as a firefighter. CCA principal Jennifer Castillo explains, “One of the benefits of the online at-home course work is the flexibility. She is able to respond to emergency calls, which can occur at any time of the day or night, because her class schedule works around her personal goals.” Sparrows-Bagley has earned placement in the National Honors Society during both her junior and senior year of high school, making straight As. Principal Castillo confirms, “Samantha has been a model student.” In fact, plenty of CCA students attend both high school and college concurrently, giving them a springboard to achieve their future goals. “I don’t know how Samantha does it,” Tonya Bagley says. “She’s even drove for hours to attend college classes in Colorado Springs. She’s never late, never missed a class or an assignment.”

After high school graduation, Samantha Sparrows-Bagley plans to attend Grand Lake Academy for firefighting. Tonya Bagley says, “It’s scary, but at the same time, I’m proud of her. It takes a lot to be a fire fighter. It’s not just something you can walk up and do. It takes a lot of training.” HSSPFPD Chief Baumgarten says, “Samantha has been great to have on our team. She has improved so much since her first day and is continuing to grow into what I believe will be a successful career as a firefighter one day very soon.”

“Our family has a tradition,” Tonya Bagley explains, “If you don’t know what you’re going to do with your future, you serve your country.” By taking her future into her own hands and working to save the lives of others in our community, Samantha Sparrows-Bagley has been serving for years.

CCA’s flexible school hours as well as the one-on-one attention allows for her to complete course work without distraction so that she can train with the firefighting team throughout the, making her available for all calls. “She’s also allotted vacation days and holidays,” Castillo adds.