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Schools Compete to Get President Obama as Commencement Speaker

3 years ago
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Public voting began Monday in a White House competition among high schools to get President Obama to deliver the commencement address.

The "High School Commencement Challenge" is part of the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" education program. Earlier this year schools across the country submitted applications -- along with essays and videos -- that show off their dedication to getting their students ready for college and a career.

The White House selected six finalists:

* Blue Valley Northwest High School (Overland Park, Kansas)
* Clark Montessori Junior High and High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
* Denver School of Science and Technology (Denver, Colorado)
* Environmental Charter High School (Lawndale, California)
* Kalamazoo Central High School (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
* MAST Academy (Miami, Florida)

The administration is encouraging the public to go to the White House web site to review the schools and cast a ballot with the following criteria in mind:

* Educational success of the school as an example for other high schools around the country;
* The ability of the school to engage students in learning and to foster personal responsibility and academic excellence; and
* The success of the school in preparing students to graduate college and be career-ready, to help meet the President's 2020 goal that America have the highest proportion of college graduates of any nation in the world.

The winner, announced May 4, will get a presidential graduation speech.

Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday.

The commencement contest is part of the administration's overall Race to the Top competition. States are competing for $4.35 billion of stimulus money Congress set aside for education last year. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's office awarded the first $600 million to Tennessee and Delaware in late March and expects to pick at least 10 new winners in September.

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