WASHINGTON – The White House today 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.
Booker T. Washington is the city’s oldest high school created for black students during segregation, the Commercial Appeal reports.
After the announcement was expected last Friday and again Monday but delayed, the winner of the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge was named to great expectations after each of the three finalists were notified.
The date of the speech has yet to be determined. In his first 27 months in office, Obama has not visited Memphis as president.
The other finalists were High Tech High International in San Diego, Calif., and Bridgeport High School in Washington state.
Nearly 100,000 people participated online in ranking the schools’ video pitches for the presidential visit.
BTW outpaced state goals in Algebra 1 by 27 percentage points last year. It also surpassed the goal in English and raised its graduation rate from 60.4 percent in 2009 to 81.6 last spring.