Oct 12, 2012 9:50 AM by Bernie Riggs - KPAX News
MISSOULA- Over 2,000 Montana students drop out of high school every year, limiting their future employment, but the second annual Graduation Matters rally, held at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, aimed to change that by encouraging the class of 2016 to stay in school.
The chilly rally had plenty of inspirational speakers, as well as stern reminders that getting a high school diploma is critically important.
"Earning a high school diploma is not a dress rehearsal. It's the real deal! Whatever you do or don't do in high school will follow you," Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Alex Apostle told the crowd.
Meanwhile, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom asked the class to prepare themselves.
"We need your talent your brains and your energy. You have choices to make over the next few years of high school. Choose to graduate, choose to prepare yourself for a future in which you contribute to Missoula, to Montana, to our country, and even the world," he said.
The keynote speaker, business executive Larry Simkins agreed with that sentiment.
"A world that's going to encounter things including a shortage of freshwater, a world that's gonna have to build things that we can't even design yet, and medical technology that's gonna revolutionize our quality of life. We not only want you to graduate, we need the class of 2016 to help us solve these problems," Simkins stated.
The message was simple: graduation from high school really matters.
"It was really something I've never been to before so it was good to hear from all the people and what they had to say," Sentinel High School freshman Braelin Small observed.
"I thought it was very interesting, I thought that everyone had a lot to say and it was very inspirational," added fellow Sentinel freshman Alani Rippee.
Thursday's rally served as a showing of support, as well as a celebration of the future for the nearly 1,000 high school students from Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel, Seeley-Swan and Willard Alternative took part in the event.