Voting is under way in the White House’s “Race to the Top Commencement Challenge,” and you have until this Thursday to weigh in on which school will win the honor and distinction of having President Obama deliver the commencement address at their graduation. Last year Michigan’s Kalamazoo Central High School won and now there are six new schools looking to take the prize in 2011.
With the help of the White House, the Department of Education and Viacom’s Get Schooled foundation, each school made a video that represents why it deserves to win. At WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement, you can view and score the videos from Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, Washington); Wayne Early Middle College High School (Goldsboro, North Carolina); Booker T. Washington High School (Memphis, Tennessee); Science Park High School (Newark, New Jersey); Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts (Pittsburgh); and High Tech High International (San Diego).
Science Park High School’s video features stories from its students about the acceptance they feel from their peers, the tough classes they take and the social causes that the students are participating in to better the world around them.
Bridgeport High School’s video gives outsiders on a tour of their school, where 90 percent of students are Latino, and features students’ testimonials about the teachers that have given them the special attention they need to become the first in their families to graduate.
Wayne Early/Middle College High School’s video focuses on the school’s innovative curriculum, which gives students the opportunity to earn an associates degree while still in high school. Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts’ video shows off the school’s “mosaic” curriculum.
Booker T. Washington High School’s video shares how its students have overcome adversity in a region of Memphis known for its high rates of crime and poverty, so that now it has a graduation rate of 82 percent (up from less than 60 percent). As High Tech High International’s name implies, its students are always using advance technology in the class room, but their video also emphasizes how they learn to work in a collaborative environment that reflects the real world.
“I’m looking for a school that understands the number one priority is making sure that our kids are learning what they need to succeed in this 21st century economy,” President Obama said in a recent statement. And once voters choose the top two schools from this field of six, he’ll select the one school he feels fulfills that requirement. Stay tuned to see who wins!