Class of 2020: Famous Names To Host Graduation Ceremonies (Televised & Virtually)

Former President Barack Obama

With students unable to attend physical graduation ceremonies this year due to the coronavirus lockdown, many organizations are stepping up and launching virtual or televised events to commemorate this momentous occasion for the Class of 2020!

YouTube’s ‘Dear Class of 2020’ Graduation Event (Premiering Wednesday, June 6th)

YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” event is a virtual commencement celebration honoring high school and college seniors whose graduation ceremonies were canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The multi-hour livestream event, set to premiere June 6th on YouTube, will bring together inspirational leaders, stars and creators. Headliners are former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, who will each deliver commencement speeches. A joint message to this year’s graduates will be delivered by them as well. In addition, Michelle Obama’s Higher Reach initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration.

Additional commencement speakers include BTS, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, CEO of Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. BTS and others will also be performing at a virtual graduation night afterparty.

“Dear Class of 2020” will also include appearances from Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, And The Try Guys.

Graduation Ceremony

Anheuser-Busch’s Natural Light (Thursday, May 14th @ 7PM ET)

High schoolers and college students who are part of the Class of 2020 will be missing out on walking across the stage for their graduation ceremonies. It is a milestone that many are feeling robbed of and rightfully so. Anheuser-Busch’s Natural Light is one of the brands stepping in to provide alternate ways for them to celebrate. The beer brand will be hosting a virtual college graduation ceremony on Facebook Live to give them a version of the graduation they will not be able to experience. It is a way to celebrate graduates around the world and “boost spirits.” The virtual event will be hosted by actress and activist Amanda Cerny, and will feature speakers including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actress Jane Lynch, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith and Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini.

The event will be taking place on Natural Light’s Facebook page on Thursday, May 14th at 7 p.m. ET. Graduating seniors are encouraged to sign up to have their name featured during the event.

Graduation Ceremony

Her Campus (Friday, May 15th @ 12PM ET)

Her Campus, the female-focused company that owns Spoon University, College Fashionista and InfluenceHer Collective, is hosting a virtual graduation ceremony to honor the Class of 2020 and their family and friends. This epic event is sponsored by Conair, Hallmark, Neutrogena, Pandora, Sallie Mae, etc. Appearances will be made by Eva Longoria, Liam Payne, Andrew Yang, Jesse McCartney, Hunter McGrady, Nastia Liukin, Margaret Cho and more! To get in on the party with this I’m Still Graduating event remember to rsvp, then invite your friends and family to join you there! You can meet the graduates, send graduation announcements, send video messages, etc.

In partnership with Pandora Jewelry, they are saying that although many students won’t be walking across the stage, you can still celebrate them, give them applause, and even shout their achievements and praise by recording a Tribute video

When you Invite friends and family to join the celebration, everyone gets a prompt, can make a video and upload it. Then you can drag and drop the videos in the order you would like and share! Use the promo code “PANDORA” to record your Tribute video for free.

Graduation Ceremony

Facebook (Friday, May 15th @ 2PM ET/11AM PT)

Facebook is hosting a #Graduation2020 event across both Facebook and Instagram, which will be including appearances from Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, and Simone Biles with the commencement speech given by Oprah Winfrey. Facebook plans to announce additional guests closer to the event.

Miley Cyrus is going to be performing her hit song from Hannah Montana: The Movie, “The Climb,” with a powerful message about not giving up during the stream. The celebrities and other guests involved will be offering recognition to individual high schools and colleges throughout the U.S. on a state-by-state basis, with photos and videos of the Class of 2020 as well as messages from principals and deans woven throughout.

In addition to the main event, graduates will also be able to host their own virtual graduation ceremonies and parties via Facebook, “with special features including a virtual graduation hub, custom filters, family and friends celebrations enabled by Messenger Rooms, and more”. Instagram’s also rolling out new creative tools and features, including a graduation countdown sticker, a celebratory sticker pack, new AR effects, and a custom hashtag page for #Graduation2020. 

Let’s not forget the music! What’s graduation without it? Facebook and Instagram Stories will also launch a graduation theme for Music Stickers, a list of grad-related songs. It makes it easy to find the perfect soundtrack for the graduation moments people share to their stories.

The event will take place on Friday, May 15th at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT over the course of several hours. It will be livestreamed over Facebook Watch, with individual clips being posted to the official Instagram account and celebrities’ handles as well. From Monday, May 11th, Instagram will be hosting daily programming which spotlights “iconic senior moments” in the lead-up to the celebration.

Graduation Ceremony

The Lebron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation (Saturday, May 16th @ 8PM EDT)

The LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation are putting together a one-hour special, Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020The telecast will be airing simultaneously on NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox on Saturday, May 16th at 8 p.m. EDT.

It will also be broadcast digitally on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Complex Networks, PeopleTV, and other platforms.

LeBron James, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe, and H.E.R. will all be making appearances. Megan Rapinoe, YBN Cordae, Chika, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, Loren Gray, Brandan “Bmike” Odums, Henry Platt and Jonah Platt have also been confirmed to participate. The event has been curated by high school students and educators.

President Obama has been confirmed for this event as well. The 44th president will be joined by high school students including seniors from Chicago Public Schools and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps. He will also be delivering a speech addressing the high school Class of 2020 during this event.

Black Graduate

National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Saturday, May 16th)

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that has forced colleges and universities across the nation to postpone their commencement celebrations, a coalition of HBCU leaders, advocacy organizations, and corporate partners have come together to host the National HBCU Commencement Celebration

The virtual event, the brainchild of Paul Quinn College president Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, will be streamed live internationally from ESSENCE Studios.

The celebration will be taking place on Saturday, May 16th and will feature celebrity hosts, motivational speakers, musical performances, and the profiles of HBCU valedictorians and other graduates. Not only will it be highlighting this year’s graduates and their institutions, the event will be raising funds for participating HBCUs and their students.

In addition to Paul Quinn College, the celebration is being organized by Howard University, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), Thurgood Marshal College Fund (TMCF), and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The event is being supported by several partners, including ESSENCE, JPMorgan Chase, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

Due to most of our schools being closed for the rest of the school year, we are re-imagining how to celebrate with the Class of 2020. They have worked so hard and it is unfair for this to have happened to them. It is very gratifying to see that famous names and well know companies/organizations are stepping up to the plate to see that this need is met with whatever work around it is possible to utilize. Graduation ceremonies need to go on!

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