High school seniors at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan can consider themselves very lucky. These students beat more than 1,000 other public high schools in the national contest to have President Obama deliver the commencement speech at their high school graduation.
It is very common for the President’s commencement speech to be delivered at an university graduation; however, it is much rarer to have this honor bestowed upon a high school. But this trend is about to change.
The new Race to the Top Commencement Challenge has been created for high schools that have demonstrated “innovative and effective approaches to teaching, learning and preparing students to graduate ready for college and a career,” President Obama said. The winning high school each year will receive a commencement address from the President.
More than 1,000 schools submitted their applications for this honor in February 2010. The applications included data and evidence to support their claim to academic excellence and commitment to furthering students’ educations. Each school also had to fill our four essay questions, similar to the standard college application.
Kalamazoo submitted a video to show why they deserved this honor. The video started with an African-American student singing the school’s song. Next, seven students were featured speaking their native languages to show “the interwoven languages we speak.” The video continued to show the demographic distribution of students, personal testimonies, and sports achievements. This all culminated in an emotional appeal that deeply touched the many people who watched it.
The graduate date has not been set yet, but you can bet that the students at Kalamazoo Central High School are very excited to graduate and to hear inspirational words from President Obama.