Sen. Brown Visits Cincinnati School Selected as Finalist for President Obama’s Commencement Challenge

Clark Montessori Junior High and High School is Finalist in Competition for President Obama to Speak at Commencement


CINCINNATI, OH - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown visited the Clark Montessori School in Cincinnati today to encourage Ohioans to vote for Clark Montessori as the winner of the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. During an assembly with the school's renowned steel band, student representatives outlined to Sen. Brown and their peers why Clark Montessori should be selected as a site for a presidential commencement address.

"I congratulate Clark Montessori Junior High and High School for their continued success in preparing Ohio's students for the 21st century workforce," Brown said. "Schools like Clark Montessori need to be recognized for their innovation and commitment to student success."

"This year Ohio earned its highest rating ever from Education Week, and we will not stop improving our public education system. Our future economic development will be built on the accomplishments of our students, and we owe them the education they need to succeed. Ohio would be an outstanding state for President Obama to visit during the commencement period."

Earlier this month, the White House and Department of Education announced Clark Montessori as one of six finalists in the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. Public high schools from across the nation submitted applications demonstrating their dedication to providing quality educational experiences that prepare students for college and career choices.

Clark Montessori Junior High and High School was one of six schools selected to create a short video showing how they best fulfill the Commencement Challenge's criteria. The videos, along with portions of each school's written application, will be featured on the White House Web site for the public to vote for the three schools they think best meet the President's goal. Last week students worked with The Get Schooled Foundation (The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom) to create a short video highlighting how the school best fulfills the Challenges criteria. The President will select a winner from the top 3 schools that recevie the most number of votes. President Obama will visit the winning school and will deliver their commencement address this spring.

Clark Montessori Junior and Senior High School is the first public Montessori high school in the nation. The first class graduated in 2000, and since then 99.5 percent of students have graduated, and over 96 percent have gone on to attend college. In addition, 33 percent of Clark students receive free or reduced lunch. The school focuses on the stewardship of humanity and working with others in community. Students begin service in junior high and by the time a student graduates from high school, over 275 hours have been dedicated to service with a social service agency.

Clark Montessori's curriculum is a rigorous, integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to learning. Four years of honors-level English, math, science, social studies are required for all students. Teams of teachers are with students for two years for core courses - 7/8, 9/10, and 11/12. The Seniors complete a year-long research project on a topic of choice, developing a formal 30-40 page research paper to support a single thesis. Each student has a qualified mentor, and learns how to utilize a university library.

In addition to traditional academic studies, each Clark student must complete eight two-week intensive field study courses. Each "intersession" course includes rigorous academic requirements paired with hands-on learning experiences, and a service component. Each fall, juniors participate in Post-Secondary/College Prep & Tour intersession, and seniors the Career Internship intersession. Students and families are carefully guided in the college process and receive individual support with the financial aid process.


Beginning Monday, April 26 at 8 AM, you can vote at by visiting A three-minute video and short essay from each school will highlight how it best satisfies the criteria of the Challenge. Visitors to the website can view each finalist's video and written submission, presented in random order. For each school, visitors are encouraged to watch the video and read the essay question before deciding on a rating. Visitors will be allowed to rate the finalists on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 as the lowest rating and 5 as the highest). After a rating is submitted, the next school's video and essay question will be presented for review and ranking until all six schools have been viewed. Visitors may choose to skip any finalist at any time rather than giving them a rating. Only one rating per finalist per IP address will be allowed. Voting will close on 12 PM on Thursday, April 29, 2010.

At the end of the rating period (April 26, 2010 at 8:00 AM to April 29, 2010 at 12 PM), the three schools with the highest average ratings will be submitted to President Obama for final selection. The winner of the Commencement Challenge will be announced on Tuesday, May 4, 2010.


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