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<br />Cheer, then vote: Join the true believers

This is a story of a basketball team and a high school that inspired a city to take the idea of believing to the next level. by Linda S. Wallace and Karanja Ade Mosi Ajanaku

This is a story of a basketball team and a high school that inspired a city to take the idea of believing to the next level.

The Memphis Grizzlies are a towering team of giants who use strength, hard work and each other to create magic on the court. Not so far away from the FedExForum where they play stands Booker T. Washington High School, a local landmark where people share a common belief that students living in poverty are skillful learners and born to lead.

BTW/Tri-State Challenge

As part of its BTW/Tri-State Challenge campaign, the Tri-State Defender will offer a limited time special. For every new, 12-month $30 subscription taken out by new readers during the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, we will donate $10 to Booker T Washington High School.
Support these high achievers by calling 901-523-1818.

These two gritty bands of “yes, we can” thinkers have cast a soft, warm glow over the City of Memphis. And if you listen, you can hear skeptics from coast to coast whisper, “Anything is possible. Haven’t you heard what’s going on in Memphis right now?”

Lines to cheer on the Grizzlies are getting longer by the day. Faithful fans await the moment to do their part: a lot of clapping, an awful lot of noise. And so it should be starting today (April 21) when the White House opens up voting in the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.

Booker T. Washington High School, a pipeline of local talent that flows into the workforce, is one of six schools still in the running for the Commencement Challenge top prize. Now it is up to this city to help them bring the prize home. The Commencement Challenge invites public high schools across the country to demonstrate how they prepare students for college and a career. If BTW snatches this honor, corporations and community share the dividend.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Memphis time on April 21 and continuing through Friday April 29 at 11:59 p.m., Memphians will have a chance to view and rate on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) each remaining school’s short video (produced with support from the Get Schooled Foundation), along with an essay on how their school is preparing its students to win the future and achieve the goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates.

Vote at whitehouse.gov/commencement. The names of the three schools with the highest average rating will be sent to President Obama for a final selection.

So you know what to do, my brothers and sisters. Let’s walk our talk by lining up online April 21-April 29 to show Memphis youth we value achievement on and off the courts. Vote online and tell your Facebook friends and family to do the same. Wear T-shirts and buttons that show your pride.

Karanja Ade Mosi Ajanaku, a frequent contributor to the Tri-State Defender, has written a fresh rap that the newspaper will use to launch our BTW/Tri-State Challenge campaign. Stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and this website.

The message is the same whether you’re old school or new:

Booker T is on the scene,
best believe we come equipped,
with the knowledge that we need
plus a shoulder full of chips,
education on our minds,
but it’s crazy in our residence,
what’d motivate us most
is a word from the President,
dippin, ducking, dodging
plenty drama every day,
keep my head above water,
we comin’ in first place,
look’n over all the hate I’m
living wit n my community …
I see Obama’s face, and its
adjacent to our unity…

Memphis on our side,
n yea they vibin with the groove,
they give us all the tools we need
to make some major moves,
college is on my tail,
so we tryna live this life
n live it on a grander scale,
big business is my mission
to get this acceptance mail,
n call my mom n tell my dad
that I’m shippin off to Yale.

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