By Rachel Wulff

COLFAX (CBS13) — It was a day of celebration at Colfax High School, which was saved from the River Fire.

The hugs were from the heart for mom Kelly Dunham and her son. It’s the first day of his last year of high school.

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“One more year, make it epic!” Dunham shouted as she kissed him goodbye.

The River Fire changed this moment.

“I lost my shop, dirt bikes, a lot of my stuff, but our house is still up,” said Peter Dunham.

But it didn’t steal the magic as nearly 700 students filed into the quad for the first day of class.

“It’s refreshing being back and waking up at five in the morning once again,” said one student with a laugh.

Freshman were finding their way, like Ryder Vernon.

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“I’m very excited. I can’t wait to get my computer [and] see all my friends,” Vernon said.

There was also a celebration of survival at a rally to recognize first responders

“We have an extremely strong culture — and if you don’t know, ‘culture’ in Latin means ‘care.’ And that’s what we’re going to do this year, we are going to continue to care for one another,” said Principal Paul Lundberg.

And while there weren’t enough bus drivers, there were enough big smiles.

School leaders said they are at about 90 percent attendance and hope to bump that up to 100 percent in the next few days as more people feel comfortable coming back to campus.

Colfax Elementary will open on August 18 and will serve as a disaster relief center and provide childcare starting tomorrow.

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Lundberg says 100 of the 700 students were impacted by the River Fire, as welll as nearly a dozen staff.