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UM News
September 26, 2013

MISSOULA – In Missoula County, 2.4 percent of high school students drop out each year, limiting their future paychecks and employability.

In an effort to encourage students to graduate and boost their potential, more than 940 freshmen from Missoula County Public Schools will gather Tuesday, Oct. 1, for the third 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 dignitaries such as MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle, UM President Royce Engstrom and UM sociology faculty member Daisy Rooks. Missoula Mayor John Engen will emcee the event, and Denise Juneau, Montana superintendent of public instruction, will be the keynote speaker.

“This event provides our local freshmen with an experience that demonstrates how much Missoula and the entire state of Montana values them and wants them to succeed and graduate,” Apostle said. “If this is the first time some of these freshmen set foot on a university campus, we want that experience to inspire them to graduate and continue with higher education.”

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

“We are excited to host this fun event at Washington-Grizzly Stadium for the third time,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “Graduation Matters has strengthened UM ties with Missoula public schools, and we hope the students who attend will make it a personal goal to finish high school and attend college.”

Participating MCPS schools are Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel and Seeley-Swan. 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, UM 2020: Building a University for the Global Century, which promotes helping K-12 students and assisting them with the transition to college.

All students in Missoula County Public Schools participate in learning experiences that reflect the MCPS 21st Century Model of Change, focused on increasing student engagement, transforming learning environments and supporting early innovators.

More information about Graduation Matters Missoula is online at More about MCPS 21st Century Model of Change is online at Information about UM’s strategic plan is online at



Local, Western Montana


Contact: Erika Palmer, UM Graduation Matters event coordinator, 406-243-2317,; Hatton Littman, director of technology and communication, Missoula County Public Schools, 406-728-2400 ext. 1024,