San Francisco (Obama.net)- While most high school graduates will see their high school commencement speeches done by a former student who has reached a high level of success in life, a local minor celebrity, or simply a district official, Kalamazoo Central High School students got someone a little more famous and credible this year.
The students, who graduated in a ceremony in Western Michigan University, got an opportunity of a lifetime as their commencement speech came from the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Kalamazoo Central High School had the privilege of receiving the visit from Obama by winning the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.”
Over one thousand schools entered the challenge and nearly one-fifth of a million votes were cast to decide which school deserved the speech the most. Obama said “America has a lot to learn from Kalamazoo Central about what makes for a successful school.”
Obama touted the teachers of the school, as well as the parents, coaches, mentors, and tutors of the students for providing the right atmosphere and opportunities for success. The President also acknowledged his liking of the school motto, “every child, every opportunity, every time.” Obama shared his approval of the school’s attitude that “Every child who walks through your schoolhouse doors deserves a quality education.”
Obama then turned his attention to the students themselves. He told them that even though they deserved the education opportunities, they still had to work hard for the success they enjoyed in school and will have to continue to do so in the future. Obama stressed that “true excellence comes only through perseverance.”
Obama didn’t want to leave the students of Kalamazoo Central High School with a statement that asks them to keep working hard, he also gave them proof that the work would pay off. Obama cited Kalamazoo Central alumni Derek Jeter. Obama talked about how the New York Yankees starting Shortstop for the past decade and a half is a prime example of what hard work can do. Obama said, “he always wanted more” and that’s the attitude needed to reach success. A desire to keep improving and take on any challenges that come the students’ way in the years to come is essential.
The students of Kalamazoo Central High School had the great opportunity to receive the commencement speech of a lifetime from the President of the United States, but they’re not the last. Obama’s challenge is an annual one that is part of his plan to raise the college and high school graduation rate by 2020. If Kalamazoo Central High School is any indication, Obama’s plan is well on its way.