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Life in the Flathead Valley - Kalispell, MTLife in the Flathead Valley - Kalispell, MT
Local Students to Gather for Graduation Matters Program Kickoff
Kalispell Public Schools is holding the event on Friday, Feb. 1 at the fairgrounds trade center
An estimated 750 eighth graders from the Flathead Valley will gather at the Flathead County Fairgrounds for the upcoming launch of the local Graduation Matters program.

Kalispell Public Schools is holding the event on Friday, Feb. 1 at the fairgrounds' trade center. The event is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. All area eighth graders attending partner schools in Kalispell School District will participate.

The event will be part of a student pledge to stay in school and feature special guest speaker Shay Smithwick-Hann from the University of Montana. Students will also be able to enjoy a variety of carnival booths and games featuring sumo wrestling, photo booth, dance floor with DJ, relay competitions and specialty treats.

Graduation Matters is a statewide initiative launched by the Montana Office of Public Instruction in 2010. The program helps communities develop strategies and resources for students' success.

A Graduation Matters committee of local business leaders and teachers has been organizing the event since November after meeting with local students to discuss how the launch would be most meaningful.

“We’ve really had a tremendous response from our community,” Dan Zorn, assistant superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools, said in a statement. “Keeping students in schools is such an important focal point for having access to jobs and a productive future. We are grateful for how many people have helped us in this effort.”

The Graduation Matters program will be a yearly event, and students who sign the "I Pledge" banner to stay in school will have that banner prominently displayed at their school sites on each first day. The program will help students struggling with attendance and other challenges by actively working to establish a mentoring program that will provide strategies to stay in school.

Community members interested in volunteering, or supporting the program with a Graduation Matters Kalispell decal in their window, may contact Mike Kofford at 751-3432 for more information.

RELATED: Local Graduation Rates Score Above State Average
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