Monthly Archives: December 2020


Columbia College’s Fire Academy would like to announce the graduation and Certificates of Completion to the successful students of the Fire Technology Program.

 The certificates are awarded based on the student’s successful completion of the academic and manipulative training as mandated for a California Firefighter 1 Certification. The students must still complete six months of full-time or one year of part-time field experience before applying to the state for Firefighter I Certification. “Some of the graduates will apply or continue with reserve, intern, and volunteer in positions at local fire departments since entering the academy” said Chief Shane Warner, Columbia College Fire Technology Program Coordinator/Instructor.  “Some of the students have already applied through a standard application process for seasonal employment with CAL Fire, Forest Service, and local fire agencies” said Instructor Andy VanHoogmoed.

These students have completed an intense 16 weeks of training. The rigorous training is designed to help serious candidates meet the requirements for demanding careers as professional firefighters, including more than 576 hours of academic and manipulative training, according to Chief Shane Warner.

In addition to the “routine” fire training classes, specialized training was delivered involving Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Training, Seasonal Wildland Firefighting classes, Confined Space, Basic Power Saw Safety, and live fire suppression training which was conducted at the Twain Harte Fire Department’s Training Center. A special thank you goes out to Columbia College Fire Department, Columbia Fire District, Sonora City Fire Department, Twain Harte Fire Department, Tuolumne Bank of Me-Wuk Indian Rancheria Fire Department, Tuolumne City Fire Department, Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Department, Tuolumne County Fire Department, CAL Fire TCU, and Sierra Conservation Center.

“Each of these students deserves credit for their determination and perseverance” said Steve Amador, Dean of Career Technical Education. “There is no doubt that this year has been challenging, yet these Fire Academy students have proven to themselves, and to their community that hard work can overcome obstacles, including the many difficulties we have faced this year.  I am honored to call these Fire Academy students – graduates of Columbia College.”

“The Fire Academy tests the strength of character of young men and women”, said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “This year’s graduates deserve special recognition for overcoming the COVID-19 odds, both inside and outside the classroom. Great job, graduates!”

The traditional Columbia College Fire Academy graduation ceremony cannot be observed under the current circumstances. Once the pandemic is over, an alternate for graduation will be decided upon and the graduates will be informed accordingly.

For further information contact Fire Academy Chief Shane Warner at 588-5308 or Captain Andy VanHoogmoed at 588-5153.

Spring Classes are Open at Columbia College

The COVID-19 global pandemic has created human and economic crisis across the world in a scale not witnessed before. The pandemic has a disproportionately high impact on low-wage, high-contact jobs. Rural communities have been impacted to a greater degree due to the lack of broadband access in remote areas. As we race towards the availability of a vaccine and return to normal, one thing is certain – a well-trained, college educated labor force is more likely to be gainfully employed in the post COVID-19 era.

Columbia College has been preparing students from the Mother Lode region for the last fifty years. More often than not, earning a college degree is a passport to a well-paying job. Currently, enrollment is open for the Spring Semester. Opportunities are available for local area residents to earn a college credential in a variety of areas to improve their job prospects. A number of options are available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Career Technical Education. During the pandemic, Columbia College is taking all precautions to keep its students and employees safe, as evidenced by the fact that throughout the Fall semester, there were no large-scale breakouts of COVID-19 on campus, despite several students and staff that came to the campus on a regular basis.

Most classes in the Spring semester will be held remotely – where one can participate in college courses from their home. If access to internet or other technology is a challenge, Columbia College has several hotspots and laptops available for students to use at no additional cost. Over 80% of students taking classes at Columbia College – qualify for financial aid. There are several opportunities available to students who need financial aid to pursue their college education. In the Spring semester, a number of additional grants are open for students, apart from the routinely available financial aid. If financial aid is a barrier to enrolling in college, please check with Columbia College to know the options available to you.

“We are here to support our students succeed in college and progress towards an economically rewarding career”, said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “We have both fiscal and technology resources available for our students who want to enroll for classes in spring. Our well qualified and caring faculty and staff are here to support the educational journey of students from our area. Spring classes will begin on January 11, 2021.”

If you have been postponing your college education, or you know someone who is thinking about college, the time is now. Please visit or call 209 588 5109 to talk to a college official.

Columbia College Cancels Claim Jumper Competition Through June 2021

SONORA, Calif. – Growing safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 and Tuolumne County’s inclusion in the recent Regional Stay Home Order have led to the cancellation of Columbia College volleyball and basketball through the spring of 2021. We remain hopeful that the 2021-2022 season will bring Athletics back to the Oak Pavilion and the community will be there to support our dedicated athletes.

Columbia College will always place the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches, staff, and community first. This decision is disappointing, but especially so for our student-athletes, who put in countless hours preparing for a modified spring season. We are committed to our student-athletes and will continue to provide them access to health, counseling, and student-athlete support services as they continue their academic journey.

The difficult decision is made keeping primarily two aspects in mind – health of our student athletes and medical system of our community. Playing contact sports in the middle of a pandemic brings high health risk to our athletes. Moreover, if COVID-19 spreads rapidly during athletic events, our medical system, particularly ICU bed availability may be jeopardized if the need for beds exceeds the availability. By not participating in competitive sports, Columbia College expects to keep both the students and the community safer.