Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 are canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but LeBron James still wants to make sure graduates have a chance to celebrate their accomplishments.
The Los Angeles Lakers star is hosting a star-studded special called "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" to honor the three million students receiving diplomas.
"These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it," James said in a statement.
Here's everything we know about the special event.
When is "Graduate Together" airing?
Graduates will want to get their caps and gowns ready. The one-hour special will be broadcast on Saturday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Where can you watch the ceremony?
The special event will air on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX simultaneously. It will also be live-streamed right here, as well as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. The special is being produced by Done + Dusted and James' SpringHill Entertainment.
Which celebrities will appear at the celebration?
James called a bunch of his friends to help celebrate the Class of 2020. President Barack Obama will be a part of the virtual commencement, along with the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Maren Morris, Malala Yousafzai and a long list of other famous names.
The line-up celebrating this year’s graduating high school seniors includes:
- LeBron James
- President Barack Obama
- Kane Brown
- Bad Bunny
- Timothée Chalamet
- Lana Condor
- YBN Cordae
- Charli & Dixie D'Amelio
- David Dobrik
- Dolan Twins
- Loren Gray
- Kevin Hart
- Chris Harrison
- The Jonas Brothers
- Alicia Keys
- Liza Koshy
- Julianne Moore
- Maren Morris
- National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson
- Kumail Nanjiani
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Brandan Bmike Odums
- The Brothers Platt
- Megan Rapinoe
- Yara Shahidi
- Lena Waithe
- Olivia Wilde
- Pharrell Williams
- Malala Yousafzai
Obama will deliver a commencement message to the graduating class of 2020 during the special. He will be joined by high school students who are part of the Obama Foundation’s work to inspire, empower and connect people to change their world, including seniors from Chicago Public Schools and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps.
Earlier on Saturday, Obama addressed students for “Show Me Your Walk: HBCU Edition," a virtual event celebrating 27,000 students graduating from 78 historically black colleges and universities. Hosted by Kevin Hart, that event featured numerous black celebrities and business leaders.
Obama told students, “I know this isn’t the commencement any of you really imagined.”
“These aren’t normal times,” he added. “You’re being asked to find your way in a world in the middle of a devastating pandemic and a terrible recession. The timing is not ideal. And let’s be honest: a disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country. We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning."
“Injustice like this isn’t new," Obama continued. “What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing, that the old ways of doing things don’t work. And that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick. And our society and our democracy only works when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other. More than anything, this pandemic has fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge. If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you.”
The former president is slated to give a third commencement address on June 6 with Michelle Obama in an event hosted by YouTube.
How can graduates participate and show their school spirit?
Students can submit their senior photos for a digital yearbook on the special's website, along with a "heartfelt and hopeful" video speech for their graduating class. Students can also show their school spirit with a video highlighting everything from their marching band skills to singing the school fight song.
Graduation is also of course a time to show gratitude to teachers. Students can send shoutouts to their favorite teachers in a 10 to 15 second video. Some of the best submissions will be shared with the country during the special broadcast.
How can teachers celebrate the Class of 2020?
Teachers are invited to upload videos talking about what the class of 2020 taught them. They can also show their school spirit and share videos or essays talking about how they or their colleagues have gone above and beyond to help students succeed.
"We’re asking educators and students to do unprecedented things. And so many of you are rising to the occasion in ways you never have before," said the call for submissions.
How can parents get involved?
Proud parents might not be able to cheer from the bleachers as their kids get their diplomas, however they can still celebrate their graduate virtually. Parents are encouraged to decorate their front door and send a photo. They can also share a 10 t0 15 second video about what they learned from the class of 2020. There's also a chance to salute teachers a shoutout to let them know how much they are appreciated.
"We already knew that a teacher’s job isn’t easy. But now families like you know just how hard that job truly is," the website said. "Thanks to you and the work of your child’s educators, your student is on their way to greatness. Now’s your chance to thank teachers for helping your child get where they need to go."
The best submissions will be shared on social media and in People's magazine.
Return for the live event May 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET.