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And the winner is...

Melody Barnes and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announce the winner of the 2010 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.

The applications are in.  The public ratings have been tallied.

Now it’s time to announce which school will have President Obama as its graduation speaker.


The President launched the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge back in February to give the nation’s public high schools a chance to demonstrate their commitment to academic excellence, personal responsibility, and ability to prepare students to graduate ready for college and a career.  The response was overwhelming. Over 1,000 schools submitted outstanding applications, and more than 170,000 people weighed in on the six finalists.  

I couldn’t be prouder of these schools.  Each of the finalists represents the best that American public education has to offer and has demonstrated tremendous dedication and grace throughout the competition.  Thank you for all of you hard work.

This was a tough competition.  The six finalists - Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, KS, Clark Montessori in Cincinnati, OH, Denver School of Science and Technology in Denver, Colorado, Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, CA, Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI and MAST Academy in Miami, FL- are extraordinary schools, and each has done a tremendous job over the past few months to demonstrate the unique aspects of their school. 

In recognition of their extraordinary achievements, we will work to provide a Cabinet secretary or senior administration official to deliver the commencement address at each of the five schools not selected as the national winner.

Ultimately, there could only be one winner, and I’m thrilled about the President’s final choice

Getting a good education is critical to each student’s future and to the future of the country.  That’s why President Obama has made unprecedented investments in education reform through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Race to the Top. 

These investments are designed to raise the bar and spur innovative techniques to help schools and students achieve success.  The winner of the Commencement Challenge and all of the finalists are excellent examples of these kinds of innovations and creative problem solving.

Thank you to all of the schools who participated in the first annual Commencement Challenge and congratulations to our winner!

Melody Barnes is Director of the Domestic Policy Council.