UPDATE: Clark Montessori in Top 3 for Presidential visit - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

UPDATE: Clark Montessori in Top 3 for Presidential visit

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email


UPDATE: Clark Montessori school learned Friday that they are one of three schools in the running to win a graduation speech from President Barack Obama.

Now, the president will decide for himself which school he will speak at. The announcement will be made Tuesday, May 4.

The other two schools that made the Top 3 are Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich. and Denver School of Science and Technology in Denver, Colo.

According to the White House website, over 170,000 people voted in the contest.

A Cincinnati school is in the running to win a graduation speech from President Barack Obama. A nationwide contest is down to six schools, and Clark Montessori High School in Winton Hills is one of them.

Students, teachers and staff are all excited about the opportunity. All of them said they can't wait to tell the world why their school is so special.

"All challenges are hard and you need people to pull you through," said senior Lawrence Carter. "And that's what we have in this community."

"I love that the teachers always support us," said senior Johnneca Johnson. "After school, on Saturdays, if we're struggling, or need any help or support."

"I have all my teachers' phone numbers," said senior Connor Smith. "And I can call them at nine o'clock at night to get help on homework."

"I've never been to a place where so many people are giving me high fives or patting me on the back," said senior Calen Settles. "And telling me that I can do it. I can achieve my goals."

One goal now includes getting President Obama to speak at this year's commencement ceremony. It's now an attainable goal because a group of twelve students at Clark Montessori have been working overtime on their application since February. The group has spent hours planning, shooting two videos about their school, and writing essays for the nationwide contest. On April 9, school leaders heard the news they were waiting for: they made it to the final six.

"My assistant said there's a call for you," Principal Rupa Townsend said. " I said, 'who's calling?' She said 'the White House?' I said 'the White House?' I ran to my office and all I could do was scream!"

The contest was based on three criteria: school performance, essay questions and supplemental data.

For this final round, voters will have a chance to review and rate a three-minute video and a short essay from each of the finalists by going to www.whitehouse.gov/Commencement.  President Obama will then select the winner from the three high schools with the highest ratings.

The other finalists are Valley Northwest (Overland Park, KS.), Denver School of Science and Technology (Denver, Colo.), Environmental Charter High School (Lawndale, Calif.), Kalamazoo Central High School (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and MAST Academy (Miami, Fla.).

Principal Townsend hopes the contest will help everyone in the community rally together around one common goal: to help her students win the ultimate prize. And she adds, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, this contest is all about the experience.

"It's not about politics," said Townsend. "It's about kids. It's about the children of Cincinnati; the children of Cincinnati Public Schools; the children of Ohio."

A place where even chances like this one can take a while to sink in.

"The President is going to be watching {our} video," said senior Natania Hoffman. "And when I think about that. We watch the President so much, and now the President is watching us, and that's just so amazing for me."

The Commencement Challenge winner will be announced on May 4 and the President will visit the winning school to deliver the commencement address next month. Right now, Clark's graduation is scheduled for 7p.m. on May 27 at Crossroads Church in Oakley. However, school leaders said they might have to change that date if they win the contest so they can accommodate the President's schedule.

Public voting begins Monday, April 26 at 8 a.m. It ends Thursday, April 30 at 11:59 a.m.

The kids have a Facebook page entitled: "HelpUsBringthePresidenttoClark'sGraduation."


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