Announcing the Commencement Challenge Finalists

Click here to watch a video of the announcement.

The finalists in the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge are:

  • Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, Washington)
  • Wayne Early Middle College High School (Goldsboro, North Carolina)
  • Booker T. Washington High School (Memphis, Tennessee)
  • Science Park High School (Newark, New Jersey)
  • Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts (Pittsburgh, PA)                   
  • High Tech High International (San Diego, CA)

Congratulations to all the finalists!  Stay tuned for more details on the next steps in the Commencement Challenge.


The Commencement Challenge invites public high schools across the country to demonstrate how their school best prepares them for college and a career, helping America win the future by out-educating our competitors and achieving President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

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 winning school will host President Obama as their 2011 commencement speaker.

The White House has partnered with Viacom and the Get Schooled Foundation to launch the 2011 Commencement Challenge.  In a video launching the challenge, Simon Boehme, the salutatorian from last year’s winning school – Kalamazoo Central High – and current freshman at the University of Michigan, came to the White House to discuss the Commencement Challenge with President Obama. Watch the video above and check out the expanded version here.

2010 Commencement Challenge

On June 7, 2010, President Obama delivered the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the winner of the 2010 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. During the course of the Commencement Challenge, we received more than 1,000 applications that which were narrowed down by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education to six finalists. Between April 26th and April 29th, over 170,000 people weighed in on short videos and essays from these finalists. President Obama then selected a winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.

Check Out the 2010 Commencement Challenge Finalist Videos

Read the 2010 Commencement Challenge Finalist Essays