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UM News
October 03, 2012


More than 2,000 Montana students drop out of high school every year, limiting their employment options and causing them to earn $143 per week less on average than those who finish school.

In an effort to encourage kids to graduate and boost their potential, more than 920 freshmen from Missoula County Public Schools will gather Thursday, Oct. 11, for the second annual Graduation Matters Freshman Rally at The University of Montana.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Students will be greeted by the UM Marching Band and dignitaries such as MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle, UM President Royce Engstrom and UM geosciences researcher Rebecca Bendick. Missoula Mayor John Engen will emcee the event, and Larry Simkins, president and CEO of the Washington Companies, will be the keynote speaker.

“This experience provides an opportunity for our freshmen to see and hear how much Missoula and the entire state support them and want them to be successful and graduate,” Apostle said. “For some students, this will be the first time that they set foot on a college campus. We want that to be impactful and inspiring.”

UM and MCPS students will speak, and entertainment will include a musical performance and videos on the massive stadium screen.

“This event has become an important collaboration between UM and Missoula public schools,” Engstrom said. “By bringing these students to campus we hope to encourage them to complete high school and plan for college. We need the contributions to society these young people will make because of their college experience.”

Participating MCPS schools are Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel, Seeley-Swan and Willard   Alternative. Students will be bused to the rally, which dovetails with the efforts of Graduation Matters Missoula, a school-community partnership that encourages students to stay in school through graduation. The event also complements UM’s strategic plan, Building a University for the Global Century, which promotes helping K-12 students and assisting them with the transition to college.

More information about Graduation Matters Missoula is online at Information about UM’s strategic plan is online at



Local, Western Montana, Dailies


Contact: Peggy Kuhr, UM interim vice president for integrated communications, 406-243-2311,; Alex Apostle, superintendent, Missoula County Public Schools, 406-728-2400 ext. 1026,