Dear Patrick and Michelle,
A sincere thank you to you and your entire staff for all that you are doing for our son and our family. It’s been amazing to watch our son develop emotionally and academically. We are truly grateful for all he is learning at Monarch School. Thanks so much for leading this special place and making such a difference for the students and families at Monarch.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Current Monarch School Parents
“Thank you for the wonderful pictures, it was great to see you the other day. We had such a nice time with our son enjoying the holiday festivities. He has grown so much it’s great to see. Thank you for always offering to be available to us. The warmth of Monarch continues to be a blessing to us. Wishing you and your family happy new year and happy and healthy 17.”
“I hope you and Patrick had a joyous Christmas. We were so happy to have our son home that we celebrated our Christmas a week early. Highly recommended!
Monarch has been our biggest blessing. You and your staff have created a place we treasure!”
Dear Michelle and Patrick,
We took an amazing family trip to New Zealand before our daughter studied abroad for a semester at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. We are forever grateful to you and everyone at Monarch School for helping our daughter realize the amazing young woman she is!
from the Parents of graduate of Monarch School
Just wanted to thank you so much for the opportunity to come and visit the school. It was such an inspirational and incredible trip. In some ways it opened my eyes in ways they couldn’t have been before. It really validated how influential the school has been and is in my life. I hope to come and visit again in April, and I will stay in contact often. I am always sending my love and best wishes up there. You guys have such a huge part of my heart.
Love, August 2016 Graduate
Thank you so very much for your warm welcome, having the girls join us, the ‘tour’ and your empathetic heart. There was definitely sweet sorrow in the air; thank you also for allowing us the space to move through that; and to my relief, the support in attending to all those little details in lessening the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of ‘the first day.’ It was an absolutely beautiful drive back along the Clark Fork, I was happy to pull in my drive at the close of the day. Miles to process and contemplate….I came away confident that this absolutely was the right next step. I never knew one could have so many wrestling matches with oneself considering the weight of the decision. I am ever so grateful for Monarch!
from a new enrolling family
Dear Patrick and Michelle,
Our son arrived at Monarch after his Wilderness experience, with significant needs; emotional & educational. We knew the coming months would be a challenge to both him and our family. We put our faith in the “Monarch Process” and we weren’t disappointed. There were ups and downs for all of us along the way but the end results were amazing. Over a period of 18 months our son grew from a troubled child to a sensitive and caring young man. He became an engaged student who now post-Monarch, has settled in as an “A” student at his new school and he also received the coach award for soccer. The dedicated Monarch team provided excellent guidance & support during this time.
He is home now for the holidays and truly a happy transformed young man.
Parents of a young-man Monarch graduate August 2016
Hi Michelle and Patrick,
I’m currently a freshman at Baylor University and doing really well! I guess I just wanted to let you guys know that I think about Monarch all the time and that the school holds a very special place in my heart. I would love to come up and visit sometime and see how everyone is doing. Monarch had such a huge impact on my life and it truly was an unforgettable experience. I hope you guys are doing great and I can’t wait to hear more about it!
Monarch School young-lady Graduate May 2014
Hello Monarch School, I just wanted to let everyone know I’m doing pretty well. I miss everyone, staff and student alike. Except for anyone new, since I didn’t exactly get the chance to get to know them But I’m sure if I’d met them, I’d miss them too. Could you also forward this to the day school manager e-mail account so they get a chance to read this too? Thanks!
Anyway, I leave for Milan this Friday for a two week long language immersion study. Super excited! I’ll send a couple pictures. I hope everyone at school is doing well!
Also wondering, what number should I call to get the staff office so I can eventually talk to students. That would be lovely to know. Thanks!
I miss everyone!
Much platonic love, Monarch School Graduate
Hi Monarch Family,
We wanted to thank you for a wonderful weekend with our son. We appreciate the unlimited access to him, the students, the staff and the beautiful Monarch campus.
We can’t say enough about the dedicated folks that we met over the weekend.Our son was the best we have ever seen him over the last few days. We attribute that to your efforts and the student population. Your kids really seem to care about one another and they really try and help one another along. Even your food was great!
We look forward to seeing you again over parents weekend.
Fondly and with a tremendous amount of gratitude, [current Monarch School family]
Hi Monarch School –
I hope you are well. Things here are going very nicely for our family. We have for the most part peace and harmony at home as all four of us are taking care of ourselves while standing by to support each other if/when asked.
Our son, as far as my wife and I can see is meeting his goal of a balanced life style. He’s getting his school work done in an engaged way and “seemingly” with little effort. I say seemingly because he does put plenty of effort in but because he balances his academics with work (at a bagel store on the weekends and coaching little kids one or two days during the week), friends, family and plain old down time, he makes it look easy. I don’t know how intentional he is about the balance he has achieved but frankly I don’t really care because he’s doing great and I’m proud of him.
Aside from posting you on that I am emailing you today because I wanted to share with you a thought I had as I was having dinner with my wife last night. We were talking about our son’s high school which is known to be really great (I’m not a very big fan). And specifically we were chatting about his teachers which I am not especially impressed with. And I said to my wife – “man I miss those Monarch School teachers”. And I really do. His teachers now are fine. Monarch School teachers are light years ahead of fine! They are truly special. And while I wish our son could continue to be taught by teachers of Monarch School caliber, I am very grateful that he had them for the time he did (I bet he is too). They made such a positive difference for him in many, many ways.
So while I have thanked you before, I must thank you again for assembling and leading such a talented team of educators!
Steve from New York (dad of a Monarch School graduate)
I got home this am from another parent weekend with my daughter, again impressed by the positive changes in her demeanor and the progress in her therapy.
I am grateful for the environment you’ve created, the structure of your program, and the quality of your staff. Chris, her Primary Therapist is great for her. (and I mean Great!)
Yet the real magic is in how well integrated your philosophy is woven throughout every aspect of my daughter’s daily life, through her every experience with staff and peers — how well thought out those interactions are designed to have meaning / growth for each of the students.
(years ago I learned the term ‘en milieu’ but I never truly saw it in action until coming to Monarch School.)
You have managed to create an environment where all aspects of your program, all staff regardless of their role — are well chosen, well trained, and very well understand how important any interaction they have with any student really matters.
When my daughter can tell me how a “focus” has brought her to realize something she needed to see… well, words cannot express!
I was especially touched by my daughter’s recounting of your personal support when she was distressed during Yom Kippur. You brought to her butterfly wings given to you by our Educational Consultant. My daughter said her EC gave you the wings soon after my daughter had enrolled, and wanted a photo of my daughter with them on, which you provided. Your gesture means a lot to my daughter, and also to me. My daughter was excited to show me Friday and tell me the story. She brought the wings with her for our off-campus visit.
During our off-campus time, we went paddling on the lake, and my daughter paddled as though she owned it. I soaked in the joy of witnessing her feeling confident and in control, in a healthy way she is now starting to learn what is possible for her.
Sincerely, from a mom of a current young-lady
Dear Michelle and Patrick –
Now that our son has been home from Monarch School for almost two weeks I have been doing much reflection about his time there — trying to make sense of the experience and what it all meant. Monarch School gave our son and our family many gifts. That is clear to me in numerous ways. But perhaps the most significant gift the school gave to him was the space to be himself. Monarch School gave to our son the room he needed to figure out who he wanted to be (at least at this point in his life). Unfortunately for our son there was no room for that in our community or in our family at the time he left for your school. But at Monarch School, our son could achieve satisfaction from his strengths without being held captive by his weaknesses. And he could have time to grow and develop without the pressure of expectations which existed for him in abundance at home. As for our family, Monarch School gave us the time and the courage to realize that who our son wanted to be was much more important than who we wanted him to be. For that we are thankful.
During our son’s tenure at Monarch School he experienced a range of relationships — there were students and staff he liked who became the cornerstones of his tenure there. There were students and staff he liked who moved on to other chapters in their lives while our son was still at school. And there were students and staff he was never particularly fond of. Through it all, the overall positive experience of Monarch School never faltered. It remained a tireless force of growth in our son’s life. Without hesitation I attribute that to the two of you. Early on it was clear to me that Monarch School is bigger than the sum of its parts. It is an environment that stands for something — the pursuit of bringing out the best of the children who go to school there. Both of you are the heartbeat of Monarch School, and your emotional investment and love are the guiding forces that drive the positive and productive atmosphere. For that I am grateful to each of you.
I hope you take much pride in having created something that is bigger than yourselves. In every student who leaves Monarch School there is a piece of your work. It is quite a legacy and one of which you both have much reason to be proud.
To that end, it would be my pleasure to give back to the Monarch School community as it has given so much to my son and to our family. If I can be of any help to the school it would be my pleasure to do so. I am happy to speak to perspective parents, serve as a parent mentor or provide any other form of assistance to a family who is in the middle of a difficult journey. I would gladly spread the word to those who will listen that there is nothing to fear about their child going to Monarch School, and that most likely they will see the experience the way that I do– as the gift we never knew we wanted!
I wish you all the best in the future.
With gratefulness and appreciation,
Mary, New York
I feel so blessed to have our son in Monarch’s care, that I felt compelled to write this review. Will you please pass this along to Michelle and Patrick as today’s reminder of what a special place they have created for the lives of young people and their family?
We too saw worrisome reviews on websites that made us question all the other great reviews and information we saw and heard about the quality of Monarch’s program. Thank God we trusted our educational consultant and chose Monarch … because we couldn’t be happier.
This school is the REAL deal, and from what I’ve learned now that our family has been with Monarch for 4 months, Monarch is actually world class, meaning it’s one of the best boarding schools in the WORLD! That’s certainly how we feel. The level of love, care and expertise can’t possibly be higher and more genuine than it is at Monarch. And every person they have hand-selected for their team embodies this world-class care every day. You don’t just see it; you can FEEL it as I have consistently when I’m there in person or on the phone.
But the proof is in the pudding … because in a word, we have our son back. Under Monarch’s caring, highly-trained guidance, our son is a miracle in how completely he has transformed his life. I simply cannot recommend Monarch School enough. There aren’t enough stars to give it … a 5-star review doesn’t do Monarch justice. It deserves all the stars in the universe because Monarch has certainly changed our family’s world!
Hi all! Times like these are too easy for me to take for granted and forget when challenges become the focal point. So, I thought I’d share some good news regarding my son.
He came home to a new house just a few miles from his old home and two new dogs, an annoying little brother (at times), a new school, and more structure than he had ever had outside of Monarch School. We went through a few days of being pushed around by him as he tried to stake his claim and seemingly push every boundary imaginable. I was ready to look at next steps and Military Schools!
However, he realized that it wasn’t all bad and that it might be worth a shot to see if he could be happy and productive in the new setting. He started a new school that is really an evangelical Christian school about 20 minutes from our home. Signed up to compete in Cross Country, agreed to his chores around the house and the limitations on electronic use…all pretty much on his own. There were some challenging moments but we were able to go through them with the sense that these struggles are normal teenage issues.
He has not missed any school to date, is now participating in Basketball, rides on the bus to and from school, and is maintaining good grades. He is making friends and just seems to be happy!
For all the worries and anxieties over the year, the reward to date has been amazing! We are so full of thanks to Monarch School! wilderness, and CFE for helping our son get to where he is at now…it has been such a blessing to have our son back!
from a dad of a young-man
Hi Patrick and Michelle
Daniel’s short book came out in print through Amazon! You may notice in Daniel’s acknowledgments he expresses his thanks to a school in Montana for being part of his journey! I put a post on the Monarch parents’ forum which updates parents about Daniel’s post-Monarch life and his current college/publishing successes! Here is a copy of my post:
Hi Monarch Parent Community,
Though I read every post that ends up on this site, I haven’t been posting my own notices or responses for quite some time…at this point none of the current families will recognize my name (or Daniel’s)! Daniel’s Monarch time spanned Feb. 2011-May 2012 (prior to which he had been at Pacific Quest).
Daniel graduated Monarch days before his 16th birthday…he was a young 14 upon his arrival, one of the youngest students. Upon graduating he still had 11th and 12th grades to complete. Much to Daniel’s upset, we took the advice of our very wise peer leader and solely looked at boarding schools. Daniel graduated Besant Hill School, Ojai, CA last week. His transition from Monarch to Besant Hill was very smooth. It’s an alternative-style school (founded by Aldous Huxley), for creative kids, set upon 500 acres of beautiful land…but the kids have “normal” stuff like I-phones and tons of cultural/recreational/social outings. Daniel thrived at this school. Though I have found a lot of recidivism among Monarch graduates…regression into old patterns, relationships, habits….I am here to tell you current parents that with careful research (and some initial fighting with your teen), there are GREAT places for our kids to continue using their Monarch emotional and personal growth skills. In our case we feared regression if Daniel moved home, so we decided upon another boarding setting, though one he helped picked and resonated with his natural personality and strengths.
One of the most miraculous parts of Daniel’s journey is his growth from an ADD, defiant, dyslexic student to a calm, self-motivated, literary young person. When Daniel left for PQ, he had never actually read a complete, age-appropriate book due to several learning disabilities and his defiance/stress. Daniel has now become a published author with creative nonfiction works and poetry in 7 national literary magazines and had his first short book published just 3 weeks ago. His past trauma, and emotional journey through wilderness and therapeutic boarding school, are what has propelled him into “telling his story” (as he puts it). Daniel was a kid who almost didn’t live; he was born with 7 life-threatening heart conditions. Then he became a young teen who didn’t want to live and contemplated suicide in junior high school. Now, Daniel wants to speak with struggling teens/parents and share his story; that life is precious, that people can change, and that we should all embrace positive relationships and experiences. I urge all of you to buy his small book on Amazon and hopefully he will inspire you as you travel through Monarch and beyond with your child. You can hear Monarch’s philosophy echo through Daniel’s voice.
In terms of what’s next, Daniel was admitted to 7 private colleges with writing scholarships and merit awards (Sarah Lawrence, Lewis and Clark, Hampshire…) and has chosen another intimate setting: Marlboro College in Vermont. So, please stay hopeful, and know your teen’s future can be shockingly bright!
Here is the link to Daniel’s website: http://www.danielwallock.com/
To Educational Consultant,
It has been almost two years since I reached-out to you for help in finding and securing a spot at a therapeutic boarding school for our daughter. Within the short span of a week, I was on my way to pick her up from Outback Expeditions in Utah and delivered her safely to Monarch School in Montana. There, my daughter began the second leg of a life-saving journey that culminated with her graduation from both the program and high school last December.
I, along with my daughter and the rest of our family, wish to express our sincerest, though belated, thanks to you for directing us to Monarch. My daughter’s 18-month experience at Monarch was, like so many, not an easy one, and on more than one occasion, it was difficult to stay hopeful. But Monarch gave us so many unexpected benefits, and one of those was that we….I….learned to let go and trust. By the time my daughter graduated, she had grown into a confident, thoughtful, respectful and aware young woman whose external beauty was made more genuine because of the beauty she discovered in herself. And my husband and I had grown to love that long trip to Montana, the respite that was Monarch School and the extended family that is Patrick and Michelle, the staff, and the students and their families; current, past and future.
My mind and heart are full of emotion-stoked thoughts that are fighting for the right to be translated into word, but I will not try here, as I expect that you have read the same from scores of grateful parents, families and students who have gone before us. I can’t imagine that our story is unique in any way, other than the fact that it is the story of Us. You know the importance of the work you do, which I can honestly say is, for many, nothing short of the giving of a chance to live.
My daughter has been home for about four months now. She and I talk in the way I had always imagined a mother and daughter could someday hope to. She has her struggles, but she is far ahead of the game because she knows she has the ability to manage the degree to which they negatively impact her. I find myself just looking at her sometimes, and all I can do is smile with joy. When she catches me doing that, she comes over and smiles too. And then we hug.
I have accepted the invitation to become a member of the Board of Directors of the Monarch Parents Foundation. I am so pleased to be able to have this way of keeping the Monarch experience closer to home. My daughter and I will travel to Monarch next weekend so that she can visit and participate as an alum in the May graduation.
Thank you! Allow me to send you a virtual hug.
from a Mom of a young-lady
Dear Patrick, Michelle and Jamie,
Three years ago this week our family transitioned from the woods of Georgia to the mountains of Montana so afraid and hopeful. The journey was amazing. We think of Monarch often ~ we learned so much. We wanted to share an update on our son.
We enjoy a strong, honest, deeply loving relationship with him as he grows into an independent young adult. He is now a sophomore in College and has been carrying 6 classes/18 credit hours each semester!
We just received a letter from his College, informing us that he earned a place on the Dean’s list with a 3.8 GPA! Immediately, we thought of the wonderful team at Monarch and wanted to share this accomplishment.
So, thank you. With pride and gratitude,
Previous Monarch Parents
Our son has done exceptionally well at Monarch School. His Mother and I have benefited from the tutelage provided to him, both in his emotional development as well as his communication skills. His academics speak for themselves as I am sure you are aware…Our son came to Monarch School disillusioned, confused, without vision of who he was and lacking the confidence to proceed in life. That is only my opinion as his Mother might have other descriptors as well. Since his time at Monarch School, I watched a boy become a young man, confident in his life skills, with a better understanding of who he is as well as a set of tools to help him overcome the adversities that he may face. This is only the beginning of his journey forward, there is still much to learn. So in short; thanks Monarch School and to you, Patrick for starting and providing an environment for him to flourish and grow.
~ All the best, from a dad of a young-man
Mary and the entire Monarch School staff,
This last Thursday my daughter had a second visit to Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school and at the conclusion of the interview was offered acceptance. Shattuck is One of the top prep boarding schools in the country.
To think that One year ago today my daughter was locked up in a psychiatric evaluation unit in Salt Lake City. The evolution that has occurred is nothing short of amazing! You people really do change lives! I hope everybody at Monarch School is as proud of themselves as I am of all of you! I will never be able to express my gratitude in words, your deeds have transcended them. But here is a big THANK YOU to all of you as a start.
~ from a dad of a young-lady
“Our son graduated from Monarch in December 2012. Today, he started public high school and it was the most rewarding and amazing experience. When he first came back, he went to a small, private school where many students from public high school take classes that they struggle with in large class settings. He also finished a class over the summer in order to be able to start his junior year along with everyone else his age, including his sister. I know there are likely to be struggles in the coming year, and I believe we are equipped to handle them – thanks to our Monarch experience. For those parents who question their decision to send their children to Monarch, I want to offer you support and hope. Two years ago, July, we sent our son to wilderness where he stayed for 11 weeks. Then, we were fortunate enough to be directed to Monarch, where he stayed for 13 months. Our Son has found himself again and has honored his commitment to staying clean and being kind, communicative and respectful. In contrast, he had a friend who remained at home in the same environment, getting therapy, counseling, etc. The former friend is still struggling with many of the same demons and getting into more trouble at a time when he could otherwise be focusing on a bright future. Once again, I am reminded how important it was for our entire family to have had the benefit of all that Monarch has to offer. Now that our son is home, he voluntarily goes to 2 or 3 Narcotics Anonymous meetings per week and at the ripe old age of 16, has 25 months of being clean. He told us of calls he had with therapists and staff at Monarch from time to time, which gave him confidence to get through the transition.
For parents in our situation, the experience is often referred to as a “journey”. In the beginning, we couldn’t believe there would be a time that we would look back on this as a “hiccup” and that we would all be able to move forward, despite being told just that by friends who went through a similar experience. Naturally, it would have been nice NOT to have had to go through all this, but I can also say that our son was exposed to things he never would have gotten to do had he never gone to Monarch. His is so thoughtful and respectful and has a great work ethic. Before he left, he almost did not graduate 8th grade. At Monarch and school thereafter, he became an all “A” student. I look forward to this year with anticipation, hope and, yes, a bit of fear. The point of this comment is to offer all parents support, hope and confidence in knowing that this was the most difficult and beneficial decision you could have made. Thank you, Monarch, Monarch families and Center for Excellence.”
From parents of a young-man who graduated December 2012
Dear Patrick and Michelle,
I gave you both hugs at graduation – so that probably means more from an Englishman than a note… But I do want to say thank you for turning my daughter’s life around – and supporting my family through a hard couple of years. Before Monarch School, there was a time there that I wasn’t sure what else could go wrong!
We’re all on the right path, with new skills and looking to the future, and excited for my daughter.
All the best, from a dad of a young-lady Graduate Summer 2012
Dear Patrick and Michelle,
I feel remiss in not sending a testimonial after our daughter’s graduation in May. There were several times I was inclined to write but the time just didn’t seem right. Yesterday marked the 3 month anniversary of her graduation. Experiencing her home for a length of time and facing the realities of “life after Monarch” as a family again has given a better perspective for a more complete response.
Our daughter has shown us how very capable she is of creating her own schedule and being responsible to it. She has made mistakes and rather than being distrustful and defensive which patterned our past, she listens and takes a reasonable, logical approach to discussing it with us. There have been times of substantial deposits into the trust bucket and other times where the bucket’s been tipped over and trust has leaked out. She struggled for some weeks “settling” into who she has become and continues to grow into. The most beautiful thing to see is a more consistent, real, true, young-woman. She is a blessing.
Monarch gave our daughter the unconditional love, firm boundaries, encouragement and the development of self-love that I was not able to give her. In addition, it gave me the space, guidance and encouragement to provide these things for her when she returned home and to be the mom my kids have needed and that I have yearned to be. Our family has been lifted up and given a new life together, not free of trials and challenges, but with the victory of overcoming them in a loving, productive way. I have learned that my daughter knows when she’s made a mistake, all on her own. My input can influence whether she grows from it or whether she feels too shamed to emerge from it. It’s been an ongoing challenge of putting my fears aside to care for what she needs. This is a key ingredient to being a better mom and I could have never seen without the incredible direction of Monarch. Our daughter’s time at Monarch will pay off for the rest of our lives. She continues to teach us every day and I am so honored to be her mom.
Thank you Patrick and Michelle and your entire teaching staff, Curtis (precious, live up to his name (Curt)), Doug, Bruce, Guitar Bruce, and the very many incredible influences of the talented, gifted and loving team at Monarch. There is no greater feeling of endearment than that for those who have loved and cared for my child as if she was their own. Monarch has been entirely transparent and beyond what any parent would hope for in entrusting their child’s wellbeing to (initial) strangers. My heart reflects on our entire journey and I remain in awe of love that our daughter and our entire family received from you and your staff. Words won’t ever be enough.
A lifetime of Thank you,
From a mom of a young-lady Graduate Spring 2012
“Monarch School was clearly a “shining star” of my tour – your program & facilities are outstanding!
I was truly impressed”. ~ Anonymous Educational Consultant
“Thank you so much…You and the school staff did not give up on my son when others have, and I truly believe Monarch is saving his life. Although he still has a lot of work to do, I take comfort in seeing how far he has already come. I cannot possibly put into words how much I appreciate your generosity as I feel my son has the opportunity of a bright future ahead of him because he is able to attend Monarch. Thank you very much!” ~ Carol from Virginia
“Our son arrived at Monarch a young, insecure, anxious, and withdrawn 14-year-old and left fifteen months later a mature, confident, calm and passionate 16-year-old. The staff, students, setting, and philosophy of Monarch form an incredibly unique and nurturing environment that encourages personal exploration and growth. Monarch students help support and guide one another and the single greatest gift our son received was learning what constitutes a meaningful relationship and developing life-long friendships as a result. We chose Monarch after visiting many schools because of this unique emphasis on positive peer support and mentorship. On our first parent visit we shared our hope that our son learn to have intimate, honest friendships by the time he left Monarch—when we experienced his graduation day, we marveled at the loving embraces and joyful tears that encircled him. Our son left Monarch deeply saddened to leave his friends, but deeply aware that these friendships would endure. He left with confidence in himself and in his ability to harmoniously coexist and bond with others. He left happy.” ~ Dana from California
“Monarch aided my growth as a student, a son, and a human being
. Before I came to Monarch, I held back my potential wherever I could. While there, I came to a greater understanding of why I did these things and what I really wanted to do with my life. Although the program at Monarch certainly helped me to examine myself and realize who I am, it was the people there who really affected me deeply. Teachers, staff and friends really made the experience at Monarch what it was
.” ~ Drew Wise
“Monarch is a very special, loving place
. When I first came to Monarch, all of the students and staff welcomed me with open arms. I made friends instantly and they will be friends who I will keep for a lifetime. Previously to coming to Monarch, I struggled with honesty. The staff, particularly Erin and Jane, worked with me to create honest relationships in which I felt safe to share who I was. I gained a level of confidence that I never knew I could have and I value myself
more than I ever believed possible. I was on the road to ending my life, and Monarch gave me my life back
.” ~ Molly Reed
“Sending our sixteen year old to Monarch School was the most difficult decision we ever made. While those days felt like the “worst of times,” they became one of the best and most productive times for our family. Our son landed at Monarch School with low self-esteem, anger, sadness, and a sense of disengagement from our family; he had tried to camouflage many of those feelings from himself by using drugs and engaging in life-threatening risks. About halfway through the Monarch program, we felt we had our old son back, one who had joy in life, worked hard, reflected on his decisions, and looked forward to a future. The combination of the arts components, the vocational opportunities (culinary arts, farming), the emotional growth and family counseling program, and the small classroom academics provided an ideal environment
for our son to blossom into a strong young man. When he graduated we had a set of tools that could be used to maintain positive communication and strong relationships with one another. It’s been a joy to watch our son’s continued growth after graduation; he completed more than two years of AmeriCorp work and is now enrolled in college pursuing a degree in fine arts. We will always be grateful for what Monarch School did for our son and our family.” ~ Cheryl Messick
“Monarch is a school of vision, acceptance, understanding, a dedicated well-trained staff, an extended family, hard work and hard play, strong academics, nutritious delicious food, health, lots of laughter, honesty, friendship, community, beauty, simplicity, creativity…or, simply put, love.” ~ Nadine
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank
“I really like this quote. Monarch improved my world…well, the people I got to know did. But if it weren’t for people like Patrick and everyone else, there wouldn’t be such an amazing place like Monarch. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it hadn’t been for them. What wonderful people to want to do such amazing things, and who want to make a difference in the lives of others.” ~ Lorie Grigg
“When I first arrived at Monarch School I was under the impression that we are here to get everything that we like taken away. I should say everything we define ourselves by. I was angry that they were taking away my clothes, my music, and TV. ‘They’re restricting who I am. I won’t conform to this,’ I said. All that was happening was I was being stripped of the shell that I wore around everyday. Without this shell of an image (preppie, distractions, TV), who was I?
“‘Who am I?’ Upon arrival I was asked this question, and I had no idea. It struck me as quite odd that without describing myself by my shell or my past, I had no idea who I really was, or how to describe myself. I had to really search and do a lot of work on ‘me’ to even be able to describe myself. At that point I asked myself, “but why can’t I have all my stuff?” It was impossible for me to really get honest with myself as long as I was defining “me” by my labels that I was given at home and by my possessions.
“Removing the entire aspect of image adds safety. Without being discriminated against and separated by their clothes, people get to know each other for who they really are. It adds safety by putting everyone on the same playing field and eliminates social ranking. Without social ranking, the past “popular kid” can hang out with the past ‘nerd’ and realize that, although they lived almost opposite lives at home, they struggle with the same issues and have a lot in common. I have gotten to know kids here who I never would have talked to at home, and I have been able to see through the front people try to put up when they first get here. This skill extends much further than a school in Montana.
“Throughout my life, if I can really look past someone’s clothes and see them for who they are, it will be great. The possibilities are endless. My greatest fear and doubt is that this safety and lifestyle could never be attained in the outside world. The beauty of the whole thing is that we create the environment around us.
“At home I surrounded myself with people who didn’t care and settled for their fronts as friends. Now, seeing what I can have in life and realizing that no true happiness lies in anything outside myself, I am left with a choice.
“No one can make me live a certain way, and all I am doing here is taking a look at the other side of the life that I could have. If I want to go back to the life I lived at home, I can. Now I know what I can have in either side, and I have felt true happiness. I have reconnected with a joy in myself that can come from no circumstance. I am happy with myself because I truly am being myself. I don’t need to rely on what I wear to define who I am. At home I strove to live a counterfeit life that distracted myself from the truth. With all the distractions that I relied on taken away, I am found.” ~ Mark L.