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Adventurous spirit offers array of life experiences for CdA Charter grad

Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy senior Michael Graves plans on attending Northern Arizona in the fall. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy senior Michael Graves plans on attending Northern Arizona in the fall. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Michael Graves collects experiences.

When he heard applications were being accepted for the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department’s new High School Fire Cadet program, he figured he’d apply – not because he wants to be a firefighter. Just to try it.

“I try a lot of things in different areas because I’m not really sure what I want to do,” said the Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy senior. “I keep trying things.”

In addition to being a fire cadet, Graves is stage manager for the school’s theater program, runs cross-country and track and has been sailing in regattas since elementary school.

Graves is number 12 of 13 children born to Peter Graves, a doctor, and his wife, Kathy.

Kathy Graves said she respects her son for trying so many different things and, in her many years as a mother, she’s seen firsthand the payoff of being curious and adventurous.

“He’s one of several children,” she said. “What I’ve seen is those who are diversified, they are much more happy and develop so many more talents.”

Only two other students were selected for the fire cadet program. Cadets go on ride-alongs on fire engines and ambulances, go through the same training as real firefighters and study the same material.

“The program is designed for high school seniors who have an interest in fire service,” said Greg Thaxton, a firefighter and paramedic who oversees the program. “They get to see and do everything a firefighter does. It gives them a taste of fire service to see if it’s something they are indeed interested in pursuing.”

Thaxton said he hopes the experience gives Michael Graves pause and that he considers firefighting as a career.

“I hope so,” Thaxton said. “He’s a good kid. He’s excellent.”

Michael Graves said fire service might be a career option down the road.

“I could see myself doing it after I’m 30 or if things go all wrong in school,” he said.

For now, he’s planning to attend Northern Arizona University and study the technical side of drama. Drama is an area of interest because it is anything but routine. Still, he’s not sure if he wants to pursue it as a career.

“I want more exposure before I commit to anything,” he said. “I like it because it changes. It’s not a desk job. Every production is a completely new thing.”

Graves has had an adventuresome spirit from an early age. He has traveled with his dad from the Columbia Gorge to Puget Sound to San Diego and even Arizona to race sailboats.

“That is the kind of young individual that Michael is,” said Coeur d’Alene Charter counselor Bev Chambers. “He is willing to try new adventures for the experience of learning new things.”


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