Today President Barack Obama will spend four hours in Memphis. He will visit areas of the city hard hit by Mississippi flooding and head to the inner-city high school that won a national competition to have the president as its commencement speaker in 2011.
Obama will first tour flooded neighborhoods and meet with residents as well as local and state officials, volunteers and first responders. Last week, the Mississippi River crested in Memphis at 48 feet and expanded to a width not seen since the 1930s.
Hundreds of high schools nationwide competed to show “their commitment to preparing students for college and a career.” Between 2007 and 2010, Booker T. Washington's graduation rate rose from 55 percent to 82 percent. The sharp increase grew out of a school and community strategic plan that instilled pride of place for both students and teachers. This was accomplished, among other ways, by setting up separate freshmen academies for boys and girls to assist with adjustment to the school’s culture. The curriculum was also upgraded by adding AP classes, opportunities to earn college credits and through robotics competitions that introduced students to engineering as a field of study, and career.
(Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)