McDowell Emergency Services Academy recently held a promotion pinning ceremony for several students and their families in the Emergency Services Academy at McDowell High School.

Emergency Services Director William Kehler was the guest speaker for the ceremony where he talked about leadership.

“In public safety, you are one team. You have been given this opportunity at this academy that very few students in North Carolina get,” said Kehler.

Among the different points he stressed about what makes a good leader, empathy and empowerment were mentioned as good attributes.

“Empowerment is bringing out the best in everybody. Empathy is important. Our job is to care for people, and in this world today, empathy is fading away. It’s time for you to carry the torch forward,” Kehler said to the students.

Chief Charles Autrey presented the fire technology officers.

• Capt. Zebulon Vance is a senior who plans to pursue an associate’s degree in emergency management, and become a state trooper. He was pinned by his grandfather.

• Lt. Kelsey Sarver plans to be a registered nurse and work in the pediatric field. In addition to being a senior, she works full time as a CNA at Rose Hill. She was pinned by her mother.

• Lt. Austin Piercy is a sophomore and junior firefighter at Pleasant Gardens Fire Department. He plans to play college baseball and become a physical therapist in the field of sports medicine. He was pinned by his father.

• Lt. Kaila Montague is a senior and junior firefighter with the Sugar Hill Fire Department. She plans to become a paramedic and firefighter. She plans to study fire technology at UNC-Charlotte. She was pinned by her parents.

Chief Barry McPeters presented the emergency medical technology officers:

• Capt. Blaine Williams is a junior and taking firefighter level III and EMT. He likes to race dirt bikes.

• Lt. Caleb Parker is a senior, member of the Old Fort Fire Department, captain of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office Explorers, a member of Lackey Town Baptist Church. He wants to pursue careers in law, fire and EMS.

• Sgt. Mackenzie Galloway is a senior, section leader in the marching band, attends Greenlee Baptist Church, member of the National Honor Society and runs cross country. She plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill and earn a degree in genetics while continuing with her emergency medical training.

After the ceremony, newly promoted officers and their families, emergency personnel and other guests attended a reception in the CTE conference room.

Get the daily newsletter in your inbox each morning with today's top stories.

Recommended for you