Sep 27, 2011 6:17 PM by Russ Thomas (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- Over 900 freshmen packed into Washington Grizzly Stadium to attend the Inaugural Graduation Matters Missoula Freshman Rally on Tuesday.
Missoula County School Superintendent Alex Apostle said a host of speakers, from administrators, to current and former students, to local and state leaders worked together to raise awareness of the importance of their high school experience.
"We're bringing forth the community in total, the University, the city, the state, and basically communicating to our students the importance of graduating."
Among those who spoke at Tuesday's rally was Governor Brian Schweitzer, who stressed the importance of the message to the freshman.
"The message here is that education is for life, it starts with a high school diploma, but after you get your high school diploma you will be trained and retrained to be successful for the rest of your life. Embrace education."
One specific point that was stressed to this group was to hit the ground running and not regret a slow start, one that could lead to playing catch-up as an upperclassman.
Sentinel High School freshman Lauren Cady said she learned a valuable lesson.
"I realize that if I get involved now, that I won't be worrying about it when I'm a senior. I wish I could've done this and not just slacked off as a freshman."
Hellgate High School Principal Russ Lodge stressed another message during the rally that students understand that they have more support than they even realize.
"There's just a lot of folks that care about them, some who know them and some who don't. In the next four years, they need to invest as much as they can to just get as much out of high school as possible."
School Administrators hope that an energetic and informative event like this will significantly lower the number of students that choose to drop out of high school.
Click here to learn more about Graduation Matters.