Washington Today, the White House announced Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee as the winner of the 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. Vice President Joseph Biden called Principal Alisha Kiner today to tell her the school had won.
"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. "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."
Booker T. Washington High School's graduation rate went from 55% in 2007 to 81.6% in 2010. 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.
More details on the commencement date and media coverage will be released soon.
Background on the Commencement Challenge
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.