by Pamela Tapia
“Obama at graduation!”
That cry rang through the hallway. Enthusiasm. Excitement, Hope.
“That’s what we need to keep us motivated as young Black men,” said Josh Walters, a senior at McClymonds.
Last Friday, McClymonds students worked hard on deadline to submit their official application to the White House to have President Barack Obama speak at the graduation for the class of 2011 on June 16.
Students were literally speechless and astonished when a group of students announced that they had applied for President Obama to speak at graduation.
There is no official count, but at least 464 other high schools across the nation have applied. No other Oakland high school is believed to have applied.
The essays included a section on how teachers prepare you in academics, why your school deserves to win and how McClymonds prepares students for college and careers.
Students focused on their involvement in the community, which is predominantly Black and low-income, especially its advocacy for environmental justice. The school was featured in Newsweek Magazine and recently won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Senior Terranisha Nathaniel won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations in 2010 and McClymonds sent its top debater to nationals last year.
In the essays, students also mentioned the school’s consistently winning basketball and football teams. It noted that it is the only high school in the country with two living Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, Bill Russell and Frank Robinson.
“We don’t have the same funding as other schools in the district because of our small size,” the students wrote. “Yet we are the movers and shakers.”
Miami Dade College in Florida has already announced that it will host President Obama as one of their 2011 graduation speakers. Miami Dade’s press release about snagging the nation’s top official doesn’t tell how they did it, but states it is the largest higher education facility in the U.S., with more than 180 countries represented in their student body