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Chief Supporter: planned firefighting program gets praise


Stephanie Harpring would have entered a firefighting program in high school if she had the opportunity.

Harpring, now assistant fire chief for the City of Thornton Fire Department, took time to talk about her own experience and also share her excitement with prospective students about the Five Star District’s new firefighting program during an career and technical education open house event Jan. 16 at the FutureForward at Bollman campus.

Harpring, a member of the Thornton Fire Department since 2017, volunteered several hours of her personal time to inform residents about the new program scheduled to launch with the opening of the new FutureForward at Washington Square campus in the 2020-2021 school year. 

“The [firefighting] program is incredibly exciting,” Harpring said. “The fact that the school is career-focused and oriented toward the fire department and getting individuals excited and involved early- it’s something I wish I had when I was that age.” 

As hundreds of students and families perused available CTE opportunities at both campuses, Harpring fielded questions and even had help from some current Bollman students, who participated in Thornton Fire Department’s Hook and Ladder Academy. 

Marv Lewis, principal of Future Forward at Washington Square, said Harpring’s assistance on a busy night was much appreciated. Lewis had not yet hired an instructor for the program so Harpring volunteered to step in. It was fitting that Harpring works for the Thornton Fire Department as the department plans to donate a fire truck to the new program.  

Lewis said Harping was off-duty and donated her personal time to assist at the event.

“We needed someone with her expertise and background to talk with students,” Lewis said. “Families left there really confident on the longevity of the program and the idea they are connected to a local fire department and have their best career interests as a priority.”

Harpring makes it a point to connect with students and also volunteered at the Adams County Eighth Grade Career Expo Nov. 19 in Denver. At the expo, eighth-graders from across the county, learn about local career and technical programs that they can enter in high school.

She pointed out that the district’s new firefighting program will allow students to graduate with certifications and the knowledge they truly want to enter the career, because they know what is involved. 

“They get the opportunity to participate without it costing them any additional time outside school,” Harpring added. 

The new Washington Square campus will include program additions such as firefighting, policing, and crime scene investigation. 

The new campus, which will complement programming currently offered at the Bollman location, is currently under construction near 126th Avenue and Washington Street in Thornton.

Learn more about FutureForward learning opportunities at

Photo courtesy Thornton Fire Department