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Obama Made the Right Choice to Speak at the First Black High School in Memphis

Booker T. Washington High School beat out over 450 other schools to get President Obama as a commencement speaker.

\n\n\n\n\n Congratulations are in order for Memphis, Tennessee's Booker T. Washington High School. The school is the winner of the 2011 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. President Obama will head there later this spring to deliver the graduation speech.

Booker T. Washington opened its doors in 1873 and was the first public high school in segregated Memphis that black students were allowed to attend. As the school's finalist video details, in recent years the 500-student campus has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles—98 percent of students live in poverty and 20 percent of student's homes were lost when a housing project was demolished—and increased the graduation rate from 55 to 82 percent.

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Enter President Obama’s Commencement Challenge

Want to have the Commander in Chief as your high school's commencement speaker? Here's your shot!

\n\n\n\n\n The Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge is back! For the second year in a row, public schools across the nation will get to compete for the honor of having President Obama as their commencement speaker.

The Challenge is inspired by the President’s goal that by 2020 America will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To that end, the application "includes essay questions and statistical information that illustrate how schools are promoting college and career readiness for all students while establishing a culture of student success and academic excellence." The deadline to apply is Friday, February 25, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Last year more than 1,000 schools entered, America voted, and seniors at Kalamazoo Central High School won the presidential send-off. Simon Boehme, Kalamazoo's salutatorian—who's now a freshman at the University of Michigan—says that the challenge brought his class and community "together in an unprecedented way."

Boehme has clearly lucked out twice when it comes to getting presidential face-time. In the above video, he heads to the White House to talk up the Challenge with the President.

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