The White House announced the six finalists in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge earlier today. President Barack Obama will deliver the commencement speech at the winning high school this spring.
Starting tomorrow, the public can rate a short video and essay made by students at each school. After the voting phase ends April 29, the top three will be passed along to Obama, who will then handpick the winner.
The finalists are Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Wash.; Wayne Early Middle College High School in Goldsboro, N.C.; Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn.; Science Park High School in Newark, N.J.; Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts and High Tech High International in San Diego.
Schools are being judged on their ability to prepare students for college and a career. The contest takes into account graduation rates and the number of students the schools are sending to college.
This is the second year of the competition. Last year, Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich. won the challenge. Obama spoke for about 25 minutes, highlighting the stories of successful students at the school and imploring graduates to continue working hard.
"First, understand that your success in life won't be determined just by what's given to you, or what happens to you, but by what you do with all that's given to you; what you do with all that happens to you; how hard you try; how far you push yourself; how high you're willing to reach," he said. "True excellence only comes with perseverance."