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If you goWhat: Boulder Valley high school graduationsWhen/Where: Boulder High, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at the school's Recht FieldBroomfield High, 9 a.m. Saturday, 1stBank Center, Broomfield Peak to Peak Charter, 9 a.m. Saturday, at the school's northeast gymNederland...

Louisville's Monarch High graduates seniors at 1stBank Center

If you goWhat: Boulder Valley high school graduationsWhen/Where: Boulder High, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at the school's Recht FieldBroomfield High, 9 a.m. Saturday, 1stBank Center, Broomfield Peak to Peak Charter, 9 a.m. Saturday, at the school's northeast gymNederland...

Louisville's Monarch High graduates seniors at 1stBank Center

If you go

What: Boulder Valley high school graduations

When/Where:

Boulder High, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at the school's Recht Field

Broomfield High, 9 a.m. Saturday, 1stBank Center, Broomfield

Peak to Peak Charter, 9 a.m. Saturday, at the school's northeast gym

Nederland High, 11 a.m. Saturday, at the school

Fairview High, noon Sunday, 1stBank Center, Broomfield

Arapahoe Campus, 6 p.m. May 26, Fairview High School auditorium

Boulder Universal, 6 p.m. May 26, Boulder Valley Education Center

New Vista High, 10 a.m. May 27, Chautauqua Auditorium

Louisville's Monarch High School dispatched more than 400 graduating students off into the uncertain but hopefully bright future at the 1stBank Center on Friday evening with a few choice words from students and, of course, its principal.

"Life is full of opportunities to do the right thing for yourself and others," said Principal Jerry Anderson. "Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and be courageous."

Monarch and Boulder Prep were the first two of 11 schools in the Boulder Valley School District to have graduation ceremonies this month, with the remainder spread out between this weekend and next weekend.

Anderson will be joining the seniors who are leaving the school, as she has taken a position at a high school in a Chicago suburb. For her last graduation ceremony in Colorado, she encouraged the students to approach the future with not only courage, but compassion and caring.

"A little care and compassion can mean more than you will ever know," she said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the school orchestra and band played an endless loop of "Pomp and Circumstance" as graduates descended a stairway into the arena, many donning customized mortarboard hats — bedazzled if you will.

Their march of triumph was punctuated by flash photography from the stands, the occasional placard and the sporadic bursts of enthusiasm from clutches of spectators whenever their particular kid emerged from a set of doors at the rear of the auditorium.

A moment of recognition was set aside following the playing of the national anthem for the handful of students moving on to military service, followed by those graduating with honors — cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude, National Honors Society, etc.

Senior Mikayla Dudek likened the high school to being a tree — thanking the teacher who taught her about the "extended metaphor" — and said that a freshmen starts off as roots, becomes a trunk, branches and so on and so forth.

"We are obviously much more than trees," she told the assembled graduates.

"We have all accomplished more than we thought possible," Dudek said. "We have so much to take away from this journey. ... What seemed so daunting four years ago has gone by in a flash."

Senior Ansh Jhatakia said, "I need a room full of mirrors so I can be surrounded by winners" — a quote he attributed to Kanye West — but looking out at the assembled graduates conceded that he wouldn't need the mirrors.

"We are finally done," he added. "It's perplexing to think that this is the last time we are all going to be together. ... We are winners. When we put our minds together, nothing can stop us."

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme

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