CALAIS, Maine — Jessica Sawyer received an early graduation present at Calais High School Class Night festivities Friday: a job.
Sawyer, 17, who will graduate with the Calais High School Class of 2014 Sunday, was hired by Washington County Emergency Medical Services Authority’s Downeast EMS on an initial per diem basis as an emergency medical technician basic position, pending she passes a test that would certify her with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.
Sawyer interviewed for the job earlier this week, and her appointment was announced as a surprise during activities Friday evening.
Sawyer was called to the stage to receive an award recognizing her volunteer service to the community for firefighting and emergency medical services. The award was presented by Dawn Winchester, a fellow volunteer with Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue and part-time EMT with Downeast EMS.
After presenting Sawyer with her award, Winchester announced Sawyer had been approved to be hired as an EMT for Downeast EMS. Sawyer momentarily covered her face, then threw back her head. After accepting a T-shirt from Winchester, Sawyer exchanged hugs with Winchester and the two members of the fire department who joined her on stage.
“I don’t know what was going through my mind,” Sawyer said, still excited later in the evening after the end of the program. “I couldn’t imagine what was going to be going on. … It was even a bigger surprise when she took out that T-shirt and said that I got the job. I’m just so excited.”
The idea for the surprise announcement came from Jeff Orchard, a member of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue, for which Sawyer, whose family lives in Robbinston, is a volunteer.
Sawyer has several family members who have served in the fire and rescue organization. She took the EMT course this past semester and passed the practical exam “with flying colors,” Winchester said earlier in the day. Sawyer also has participated in ride-alongs with both the fire and rescue unit and Downeast EMS, according to Winchester, who has known Sawyer since she began visiting the Charlotte fire station as a young girl.
Pam Allen, an alternative education teacher at the school, said Friday that Sawyer performed strongly in academic areas where she had a keen interest. The school helped her set up some elective courses that allowed her to earn credits for service with the volunteer firefighters and part of her EMT training, said Allen. Sawyer also took several online classes at her own pace.
Sawyer had a strong interest in the fire and rescue activities, Allen noted, and the school was able to foster that. “It’s a neat thing,” she said, when students can take electives that keep them interested in school.
“We can’t always do that, either,” she said. “In her case, it was a win-win for everybody.”
Sawyer was co-editor of the school yearbook this year.
“She a very … kind, caring, very respectful — been a very sweet kid all through [school],” principal Matt Clark said. Sawyer is a “classic case” of a student who made an extra effort during her last two years of school, Clark added.