Obama Surprises Michigan High School Students

Blog RoundUp by
June 7, 2010

Kalamazoo, MI, June 7— Just hours before delivering the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School, President Barack Obama gave "graduating students the surprise of their lives, bringing the already energized group to a frenzy with an unannounced meet-and-greet at an intimate, pre-commencement ceremony," according to a blog by Get Schooled, a project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom that aims to raise awareness of our nation's dropout and educational crisis and increase young people's opportunities to finish high school and college.

Why Kalamazoo Central High? It won the president's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, beating out more than 1,000 other high schools. The centerpiece of the challenge was was a four-question essay in which schools demonstrated how they were helping prepare students to "meet the president's goal of having the highest proportion of college
graduates in the world by 2020."

White House Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education selected six high schools as finalists, according to a post by MTV's Gil Kaufman.

"Then the hard
work really began, as each school encouraged supporters to weigh in to
help them get into the winner's circle. According to the White House,
between April 26 and 29, over 170,000 short videos and essays were
received from the six finalist schools, with President Obama selecting
the national winner from the three high schools with the highest average
ratings," Kaufman reported.

Nearly 94 percent of Kalamazoo Central seniors will be attending college in fall. The students' creative video plea didn't hurt, either.

President Obama's surprise visit is noteworthy enough, but SparkAction readers will also be interested to learn that during the commencement, Simon Boehme, Kalamazoo Central High School's salutatorian, raised the issue of youth councils. In his speech, Boehme asked the president to start a youth leadership council at the federal level to give young people a voice in federal policy and funding decisions. 

Will it happen? SparkAction will keep you posted!

Surprise Visit to Kalamazoo Central High School from Get Schooled.

Learn More

  • Get Schooled
    is a national program that connects, inspires and mobilizes people to work harder to increase high school and college graduation rates, improve postsecondary readiness and promote the fundamental importance of education.
  • The MTV Newsroom covers more than just music. Gone are the days of Kurt Loder's 30-second concert updates; check out their youth-related news and blog posts about graduation, Obama, education and more.