Bishop Carroll Students Give Back To Their Community


Bishop Carroll students are required yearly to acquire service hours to their community and their parish.  Many students go above and beyond the requirement and give back to others in abundance.  Some students even risk their own lives to ensure the health and safety of others.


Being a volunteer firefighter is not an easy job.  Most of the fees for training comes out of one’s own pocket, the hours are long, and the possibility of being called to action could happen at any hour of the day or not.  Yet, several chose to do this and are proud of what they do.  Junior Shyana Burger is a member of the Nicktown Volunteer Fire Company.  She has been involved for many years but only recently has officially joined after completing her training.  “I like to help people,” said Shyana.  “I love getting involved in the community.  Community Service is so important.”  Shyana has completed numerous trainings, including Basic Fire Police, Rigging and Rope Rescue, FEMA certification, and HAZMAT certifications.  She is currently in the process of being certified as an EMS. 


Shyana points out how important it is to support our local volunteer fire stations.  “The closest paid firemen in our area are Johnstown and Altoona.  If we did not have our local volunteers, it may be too late in some instances for the fire company to reach a wreck or a fire.  Supporting your local station through fundraising and volunteering helps to assure that when help is needed, it is always there.” 


That sentiment is shared by senior Dominic Lessard, also a member of the Nicktown Volunteer Fire Company.  Dom said, “Without the support for the fire companies, our local communities would suffer.  Many do not realize everything that the fire company does.”  Dom has been a fireman for around two years and is certified as an external firefighter.  Dom, and other firefighters, put their lives in danger every day to support other people.  When asked about the danger, Dom responded, “I have never really thought about the dangers.  I just like doing it because I want to help others.”


TJ Novak is a volunteer at the Cresson Volunteer Fire Company, where he has been a member for four years.  TJ has taken the Fire School Essential courses.  He said that he been involved because everyone in his family has done it, and he wants to carry on the tradition of assisting others and give back to the community.  He said that he has benefitted personally from his experience.  “The fire company is like a second family to me.  They have always and will always be there for me.  It is a community that looks after each other while we are looking out for the greater community.”


The local companies are always thrilled to have young people involved in their mission.  Nicktown Fire Chief Frank Dumm (BC Class of 1978), whose children also all graduated from BC, speaks highly of Shyana and Dominic’s involvement in Nicktown.  “The volunteer fire service across the nation is suffering from a lack of members.  Any fire company that has involvement from young, high school members has a huge advantage of leadership in future years.  Youth in the fire service provides insight into the latest training, techniques, and technology.  Also, having a young membership provides peace of mind for future service for the community.  Nicktown Fire Company is lucky to have Shy and Dom as part of our young membership.” Cresson fire chief Shawn McGonigal concurred with Frank in saying how important youth leadership is.  “I am very appreciative of TJ and other young people who are taking an interest in their local fire companies and what they do to help others.”


All three students want to encourage others to investigate volunteering their time as a fire fighter.  “It’s not easy, but it is worth it,” said Shyana.  TJ said, “It would be great if more people apply.  There is no greater feeling than being able to serve your community.”  Dominic believes that the impact made by his service is important to the Nicktown area.  “Everyone needs to have access to the fire company when they are in need,” he said.  “I am happy to be playing a part in doing just that.”


Shyana recently wrote an essay where she describes the feeling she has when she gets ready for that call to action.  “My pager comes to life with raspy sounds; I listen closely to what it says next. Sirens screaming out warning everyone nearby; I jump into action. My adrenaline spikes as it courses through my veins- first foot in my boot. My heart thumps in my chest loud enough I think others can hear it- second foot in. I feel the rush wave through my body; I pull the straps of my pants over my shoulders. My hands are shaking with excitement- I grab my heavy jacket and drape it over my back. My mind is racing- I put my bright yellow helmet on my head. I have mixed feeling of fear and courage; I jump into a truck ready for action knowing what needs to be done but not what danger lays ahead.”


Bishop Carroll is extremely proud of the time and effort that these students put into supporting their local fire companies.  Service to the community is one of the most recognizable qualities of the BC student.  Great work, Shyana, Dom, and TJ, and thank you for keeping everyone safe!