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Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee is the winner of the 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge! This means, President Obama will speak at their graduation ceremony this year!

Booker T. Washington High School’s graduation rate went from 55% in 2007 to 81.6% in 2010. The school has taken steps like 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.

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 6 finalists were selected for their creativity in engaging and supporting students, academic results, and progress in preparing students to graduate college and career ready.

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