In behind-the-scenes footage, see how winning Memphis high school seniors landed a visit from the commander in chief.
By James Montgomery

Students at Booker T. Washington High School celebrate after winning President Obama's 2011 "Race to the Top"
Photo: MTV News

Last month, the class of 2011 at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis got the thrill of their lives when President Obama delivered the commencement speech at their graduation.

It was their prize for winning the second annual "Race to the Top" challenge, a nationwide competition sponsored by Viacom, the Get Schooled Foundation and, of course, the White House. The contest aims to find the school that best prepares its students for college and beyond, and the seniors at Booker T. created a video that showcased not only its accomplishments (math scores 20 percent higher than the state average, a 30 percent increase in graduation rates), but its resiliency too.

After all, the school is located in one of the nation's poorest cities and can claim the 14th-highest crime rate in the country. Not surprisingly, they won, which meant that President Obama not only headed down to Memphis for BTW's graduation, but he spent time with two of the school's brightest and best pupils: Cassandra Henderson and Christopher Dean, both of whom overcame tremendous obstacles to not only graduate, but make plans for the future (both will attend the University of Memphis in the fall).

As you can probably imagine, spending time with the president was a dream for both students. But Obama's visit also meant something to the city of Memphis. As Dean told MTV News last month: "I'm proud of my school and happy for my city ... this city needed the help that he brings. What better place to come than Memphis?"

And now, you can relive Booker T. Washington High School's big day with the premiere of "President Obama's Race to the Top," an in-depth program currently available on Through interviews with the students and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, you'll be with them as they pose for photos with the president in front of Air Force One, fight back tears of joy, and, above all else, make a memory that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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