Congratulations are in order for Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee.
The school was chosen as the winner of the 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. As such, their school will have honor of having President Barack Obama deliver the commencement address May 16th.
Vice President Joseph Biden called Principal Alisha Kiner to tell her the school had won.
"What we want to do is catapult our students to a higher plain", said Kiner. "And that takes going to college."
Although Booker T. offers AP courses as well as vocational and technical courses for its myriad of different students, one thing that is common, especially among the teaching staff and principle is making sure that the students know that whatever they chose to do, they must "be the best" at it, reminds Kiner.
Booker T. Washington High School’s graduation rate went from 55% in 2007 to 81.6% in 2010.
“I’m so proud of the schools that participated in this year’s commencement challenge and I want to thank all of them for their hard work and dedication,” said President Obama.
The school has taken steps such as establishing separate freshmen academies for boys and girls to help students adjust to the school culture and creating an atmosphere where teachers take personal interest in seeing students take pride in their schoolwork. Students can now take AP classes, learn about engineering through robotics competitions, and earn college credits.
“Booker T. Washington High School proves what can be accomplished when students, teachers, parents and administrators come together to support achievement in the classroom and I’m looking forward to delivering the commencement address at this extraordinary school soon.”
Info on Race To The Top
The President set a goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 and the Commencement Challenge invited the nation’s public high schools to submit applications that demonstrate their commitment to preparing students for college and a career. Hundreds of applications were received and were judged based on the schools’ performance, essay questions and supplemental data. The six finalists were selected for their creativity in engaging and supporting students, academic results, and progress in preparing students to graduate college and career ready.