On Monday (June 7), hours before he was set to deliver the commencement address for Kalamazoo Central High School’s class of 2010 , President Barack Obama gave those graduating students the surprise of their lives, bringing the already energized group to a frenzy with an unannounced meet-and-greet at an intimate, pre-commencement ceremony.
MTV News was there exclusively, and we’ve got the footage for you right now!
Backstage, in the moments prior to their commencement — which was held at nearby Western Michigan University, due to the overflow crowd — Kalamazoo Central Principal Von Washington Jr. brought the nearly 300 graduating seniors together in an adjoining holding area for what they only assumed to be little more than a quick pre-commencement pep talk. After some initial comments from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Washington announced that he had another special guest he’d like to introduce. The seniors in the room were shocked to see none other than President Obama himself bound out into the center of the floor.
The room erupted in excitement and stayed charged throughout Obama’s brief-but-encouraging words on the hard work Central’s students had put in and the school’s embrace of diversity. Then he flashed his megawatt smile and began shaking hands with the still-stunned students, working the room with an enthusiasm reminiscent of his days back on the campaign trail.
For the soon-to-be-graduates, the unexpected moment capped a week of excitement, one that kicked off with the announcement that Central had won the White House’s inaugural Race to the Top Commencement Challenge video competition (co-sponsored by education organization Get Schooled) aimed at finding the school that best exemplified academic excellence and college readiness. (Check out Central’s winning video, “We Are the Giants.”) It was, needless to say, a day they won’t soon forget.
“This day has changed our lives,” one student enthused.
“This is the biggest moment in history, and we’re all a part of it, the whole class of 2010,” another added. “I’m so excited just to be here, in the moment!”
Stay tuned to MTVNews.com for more from the president’s impromptu meeting with the students early Tuesday.
Get Schooled is a national program aimed at increasing high school and college graduation rates and promoting the importance of education, developed by Viacom in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.