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For Monarch grads, a celebration of resiliency

2022 grads persevered through the COVID pandemic and the aftermath of the Marshall Fire.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — High school seniors across Colorado are celebrating graduation this weekend. For a group of teenagers in Louisville, it is also special time to celebrate how much they have overcome together.

“We have had the most unconventional four years of high school in modern history,” said Garret Myers, one of several student speakers at Monarch High School’s graduation ceremony Friday afternoon, where 339 students received their diplomas.

“Because of all we have been through…all we experienced in our four short years, I’m confident whatever life throws our way, Class of 2022, we got this. We’ll be ok. Survive and advance.”

Gathered at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield Friday afternoon (a last-minute move inside, due to weather), multiple speakers praised the group of seniors for their resilience as a class. A global pandemic interrupted three different academic years of high school for the Class of 2022. Then, with just months to go before graduation, hundreds of students and their families lost homes or were temporarily displaced due to the Marshall Fire.

“As we're leaving my neighborhood, my neighbor’s fence was on fire,” remembers senior Zach Ferrera. His family home was destroyed as well. It was a devastating loss for the 18 year old, but one that he said also provided a lesson.

“It’s made me the person I am today. It’s taught me a lot of lessons about the people around me and how I have a good community, good support system – which I’m very thankful for,” he said.

Credit: KUSA

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To honor their role in the community in recent months, several first responders joined the grads on stage, including the Boulder County Sheriff, the Louisville Fire and Police chiefs, and a representative from Mountain View Fire Protection District.

Ferrera faced a few other challenges this year. While living in a rental property after the fire, someone broke into his car. And he missed a large part of his senior football season due to a broken ankle. Ferrera was able to recover just in time for his senior night game.

“I scored a touchdown. I got in that end zone – that was exciting!” he said. “I was very happy about that.”

Ferrera said he plans to attend CSU Pueblo this fall, and play football.

There were plenty of light moments throughout the graduation Friday, too. Student speakers shared humorous memories, posed for photos with family and friends, and joined the traditional tossing of the graduation caps.

“What I hope the students learned is, one, that they can overcome whatever hurdle is thrown at them. And there was a lot,” said Monarch Principal Neil Anderson. “They learned the power of perseverance and the importance that – tomorrow is going to be better.”

"We're strong," Ferrera said. "We've got the grit to push through whatever. So, Sko Yotes!"

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