Boulder fire brings together community, encourages support

Raulfs+friends+house+in+flames+as+the+Marshall+Fire+quickly+spread.+Christmas+lights+can+be+seen+hung+on+the+tree+near+by+as+the+fires+occurred+just+days+after+Christmas.

Michael Nevitt

Raulf’s friend’s house in flames as the Marshall Fire quickly spread. Christmas lights can be seen hung on the tree near by as the fires occurred just days after Christmas.

Monica Jarosz, Staff Writer

Monarch High School is 45 minutes down the road from Fossil Ridge High School. Our sports teams rival for 5A titles and many Fossil students may recognize the faces and names of Monarch students. On December 30, 2021, the lives of Monarch students and staff were rattled from the devastation of the Marshall fire that left nothing but soot and ash in neighborhoods of Superior and Louisville. Monarch students were scheduled to return to school from Winter Break on January 5, and similarly, Fossil students returned on January 4. The difference: we returned with our homes, backpacks, computers, cars, belongings, all still intact and not thinking twice. Many Monarch students returned with none of that.

These past few weeks for Monarch have been a time of transition. Students transitioning to new homes, signing apartment leases, or staying with friends. Staff transitioning from simply teaching lessons and administering students to some even opening up their houses as a hang out space for students to escape to. And the entire community is transitioning to a period of restoration; whether they are simply rebuilding their broken hearts or rebuilding their homes.

It’s been hard trying to figure out how I can help other people. It’s hard having survivor’s guilt because it got so close to my house.”

— Sophie Taylor, Senior

Sophie Taylor, a senior at Monarch was fortunate enough to have her home spared by a neighbor’s fallen fence that was set to be replaced the morning of the fire. Taylor explains her largest struggle when returning to school has been what to sacrifice for her friends and classmates. “It’s been hard trying to figure out how I can help other people. It’s hard having survivor’s guilt because it got so close to my house,” Taylor admits.

Taylor’s friend, Maya Raulf, a junior at Monarch, sadly lost her home to the fires and recalls the devastation driving through her neighborhood as people were leaving frantically and the windstorm was throwing things around. “The hardest thing for me, I think, has been going around and trying to replace my old things… I am going to need to replace my clothes and my shoes and my sheets, like, everything, so it’s been really overwhelming trying to accept things. Even people giving me things… I’m like, that would be replacing my favorite pair of pants, but that’s not my favorite pair of pants,” says Raulf.

These two students explain how shifting back to school has had its difficulties, but with each day, Monarch students are putting each other’s needs first. The first couple days back to school were optional for students, and now as school is completely back, teachers are refraining from assigning homework and both staff and students are choosing to ease back into things. 

Although the fire occurred last month, the impact is lasting. The effect of these fires are something Raulf, Taylor, and the greater community of Boulder County wishes people would see. Houses and belongings burn when a fire happens, that is a given. But, Raulf hopes people will realize the true devastation that is often overlooked. One of these impacts is searching for acceptance. “I lost the rest of my childhood in that house,” mentions Raulf. Accepting what happened has become a unanimous challenge among many Monarch students who lost their homes. 

Raulf’s brother’s van scorched by the fires and snow accumulated on top just a few days after. (Maya Raulf)

As the news slowly covers less and less about the fires, as insurance companies give cost estimates for the losses of homeowners, and as Monarch resumes school workloads, there is still a high school community looking for support and wanting to know they are not alone. 

Being high schoolers we may not have the means to donate to a GoFundMe or even drive to volunteer at donation centers. However, there are still ways we can help the students of Monarch. Some ways include:

Sending a message to anyone you may know who lives in Boulder County or attends Monarch. Whether they lost their home or not, you checking in may mean more to them than you know. Raulf explains how she had people check in on her right after the fires, but even a few weeks removed, the messages still mean a lot. 

Making posters. Creating flyers with uplifting messages that remind Monarch students they are not alone. 

Reaching out through social media. Several Monarch students are active on an Instagram account with the username @MOHImix. Send a direct message or even email students and staff to check in and let them know you are thinking about them.

Sporting/Academic events. Fossil competes with Monarch students in several clubs and athletic events. If there is an upcoming game or competition where Fossil competes against Monarch, ask your opponents if they need anything and tell them they are still on our mind.

Donations. Donations are still an ongoing way to support the Boulder County community. Monarch has created T-shirts for purchase that say “80027 Strong” to represent the resilience of Boulder County. Additionally, a website that has several GoFundMe’s and donation sites is https://lintr.ee/emilygracegruidel, which you can visit to find links to donate to Boulder County. Boulder Valley School District, funding therapy sessions for victims, and several families of students are all in need of your help. If you are unable to donate to or buy directly from these sites, sharing the link and spreading awareness with others is a great option.

The fight for Monarch students is not over. We know they will continue to build. The strength their community has already displayed is incredible. There are many Monarch students who would love to share their story and their testimonies from these fires as well as their gratitudes and grievances.

No high school should have to battle a devastating event like this alone.”

As a high school just down I-25, we send our support and thoughts to Monarch. I challenge us, at Fossil, to sacrifice some of our time in the upcoming weeks and months to check in on Monarch students, make donations if possible, and illustrate the Ridge Nation values. No high school should have to battle a devastating event like this alone.

The Marshall Fire may have happened a couple weeks ago, but the Monarch community is still showing resilience. And the least we can do is encourage them as they do. Taylor says, “The biggest thing for me right now is getting a lot of support from other people and reassurance that, eventually, it’ll all be okay.” Let us be that support.