Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Congratulations to Kalamazoo Central High School for Winning Obama's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge

There is so much negative news that permeates the national scene nowadays -- oil spills, terrorist attacks, Wall Street greed, big city floods and so on. It is a tribute to President Obama that he continues to encourage programs and activities that promote the positive elements of our nation. Likewise, I appreciate the strong leadership of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

I live near Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the schools in my town was a finalist in the 1st annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. 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.

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, CO, 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 did a tremendous job over the past few months to demonstrate the unique aspects of their school.

In recognition of their extraordinary achievements, President Obama agreed to 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. BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) joins with the Obama administration in congratulating Kalamzoo Central High School for winning the honors in 2010.

I encourage all of you to take a moment and watch the following video -- it contains spoken word and insights from Central High students on why they deserve the honor.

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.

This is the type of energy that BDPA needs to continue to tap into with our Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES) program. We need to match up our 45 chapter cities with the 1,000 schools that submitted applications and see where we are co-located. We need to make a personal visit with our BDPA leaders to those co-located schools to see how we can help them in the coming school year.

What say u?

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