Last week was graduation week for many across Long Island, but several seniors from one school district said their final farewells to K-12 in a most unusual, and unexpected, way. Just minutes after the graduation ceremony at Port Jefferson High School had ended last Friday evening, a call came in to the town's fire department that a blaze had broken out in a neighborhood garage, reports LongIsland.com. As it happens, six of the new graduates—a group of 17- and 18-year-olds IDed by Newsday as Ryan Parmegiani, Kasumi Layne-Stasik, Hunter Volpi, Andrew Patterson, Shane Hartig, and Peter Rizzo—are all youth volunteers with the fire department, and so they shed their caps, donned their helmets, and rushed to the scene of the fire.
"We still had our diplomas with us and we stripped off our gowns," Rizzo tells Good Morning America. "I didn't even realize I still had my tie on." The garage fire was a fairly typical one and it was quickly extinguished, with no injuries reported. The fire department's Christian Neubert says most of the kids had joined the youth firefighting program at age 14, and that they're all now "full-fledged" volunteers. "I'm incredibly proud of them," he says, adding of their close-knit community: "You know that saying, 'It takes a village'? This is that place."
The fire department re-ups that sentiment in a statement, noting that it had eight volunteers in total this year that graduated from the high school, and that they'd "each shown tremendous dedication to the Department and community." As for the young fire-busters, they may have missed some of their post-graduation celebrations, but they have no regrets. "I got more pictures of me at the fire than I did at graduation," Parmegiani tells GMA, calling the evening's happenings a "cool story to be able to tell people." (Read more uplifting news stories.)