Students from the Class of 2020 aren’t able to get a traditional graduation ceremony this year, but it’ll definitely be one they’ll never forget. The COVID-19 crisis has forced schools across the United States to cancel their commencement services, as large gatherings are forbidden amid social distancing orders. Though schools in 42 states have shut down for the foreseeable future, stars like Miley Cyrus and Oprah Winfrey are making sure these graduates are still recognized for their hard work and achievements, no matter the circumstances. They’re partnering with Facebook for a virtual #Graduation2020 live stream event, which will hit screens on May 15!
#Graduation2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020 will kick off at 11:00am PT/ 2:00pm ET on the Facebook Watch App, with a commencement speech from Oprah. She’ll be followed by uplifting messages from celebrities including Jennifer Garner, Simone Biles, Awkwafina, and Lil Nas X. Miley will then treat the students and their families to a performance of her emotional 2009 hit “The Climb”. It’s the perfect choice, considering the song is all about persevering through hardship. Not on Facebook or can’t watch live? The celebrities’ individual segments will be posted on their personal Instagram accounts, as well as Instagram’s own official account. Additionally, according to Facebook, “the ceremony will acknowledge high schools and colleges in the US by name, state by state, including photos and videos of the class of 2020 and messages from deans and principals across the country.”
But wait — there’s more! They aren’t letting seniors miss out on the fun activities that usually lead up to graduation. Starting on Monday, May 11, Instagram will host daily programming that mimics those classic school experiences, like a virtual “senior skip day” and senior accolades. Yes, you can still vote on which classmates are “class clown” and “most likely to succeed.” Instagram will also, according to Facebook, “roll out new creative tools and features including a graduation countdown sticker, celebratory sticker pack, new AR effects, and a custom hashtag page for #Graduation2020. Facebook and Instagram Stories will also launch a graduation theme for Music Stickers — a list of grad-related songs making it easy to find the perfect soundtrack for the graduation moments people share to their stories.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced on April 28 that the five borough’s high school seniors will have a city-wide virtual graduation ceremony, including appearances from some “special” stars who graduated from NYC public schools. “We’re going to do one big celebration of New York City’s high school seniors. We’re going to make it something very special,” he said. “We’re going to give you something you will remember for the rest of your life and you will cherish. We’re going to bring together some very special guests to celebrate you, to salute you.” Further details, including the time and date, will be revealed in the coming weeks, according to the mayor.