UM, MCPS Annual Graduation Matters Rally Encourages High School Freshmen to Graduate

October 01, 2014

MISSOULA – Dropping out of high school limits future income and employability. But that’s a choice that 2.8 percent of Missoula County students make each year.

In an effort to encourage students to graduate and boost their potential, more than 925 freshmen from Missoula County Public Schools will gather Tuesday, Oct. 7, for the fourth annual Graduation Matters Freshman Rally at the University of Montana.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Adams Center. Students will be greeted by dignitaries such as MCPS Superintendent Alex Apostle, UM President Royce Engstrom and Montana Superintendent of Public Schools Denise Juneau. Missoula Mayor John Engen will emcee the event, and Lt. Gov. Angela McLean will be the keynote speaker.

“This event shows our freshmen that the community of Missoula and the entire state of Montana values them and wants them to succeed and graduate,” Apostle said. “We are so proud to lead the state for the third year running with the highest graduation rate and lowest dropout rate for AA high schools. We expect that each year, our freshman will continue that trend and even exceed it until we reach 100 percent graduation.”

Current UM and MCPS students will speak, and entertainment will include musical performances and the rocking Adams Center sound system.

“We are excited to host this fun event at UM for the fourth time,” Engstrom said. “Graduation Matters strengthens UM ties with Missoula public schools, and our goal is to inspire students to finish high school and go to college. Education provides a proven path to better lives.”

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 the MCPS 21st Century Model of Change is online at Information about UM’s strategic plan is online at


Contact: Hatton Littman, director of technology and communication, Missoula County Public Schools, 406-728-2400 ext. 1024,