Nate Field has signed a pledge that he will graduate from Belgrade High School and he says more students should do the same.

Belgrade High held an assembly and a lot of students signed the Graduation Matters pledge, said Field, a 17-year-old senior.

The pledge is a good idea, especially for kids at risk of dropping out, he said. Next year Belgrade High plans to get the new freshmen to sign.

“It’s important for them to see people supporting them,” Field said. On the pledges, students promise to graduate, write down why they will, and have the pledge witnessed by an adult with whom they have a connection.

Field is one of 40 high school students from all over Montana who serve on the Student Advisory Board created two years ago by Denise Juneau, state superintendent of public instruction.

The group met for two days in Bozeman on the Montana State University campus. Students discussed with Juneau ways teens can participate more in decision-making at Montana high schools and increase their sense of belonging to schools, to discourage dropping out.

The Student Advisory Board is both an effort to get students more involved in state policies that affect them, Juneau said, and part of the Graduation Matters Montana campaign.

Students came up with the idea for the pledge, Juneau said. The students also have said that to promote graduation, it’s crucial that teens develop a relationship with a caring adult, see the relevance of what they’re learning in class to their lives, and have a healthy school environment that doesn’t allow bullying, she said.

About 2,500 Montana students have taken the pledge so far, Juneau said.

Two Bozeman High School students serve on the advisory board.

Reed Lone Fight, 16, a sophomore, who recently started a Native American Club, said it’s a good idea “having a student voice and getting students involved.” Larry Bratke, 17, a junior, said the pledge idea isn’t up and running at Bozeman High yet, but the effort to get students involved could have an impact.

“The only way we can make a difference is to put our voices out there,” Bratke said.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.