With so many schools canceling big games, senior proms, pep rallies and most sadly, graduation ceremonies, something had to be done to soften the blow. One of the most exciting components of graduation that seniors anticipate is finding out who will be their keynote speaker. Some schools get big celebrity names whereas others may get a local community hero.
This year, thanks to Facebook, every school across the country will have Oprah Winfrey as their commencement speaker. On May 15, starting at 11 a.m. EST, Facebook will begin a multi-hour streaming event on Facebook Watch called “#Graduation2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020.”
There will be many guests who will be featured during this event like Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Simone Biles, Miley Cyrus, Awkwafina and more that have not been announced yet. In addition to this event, Facebook and Instagram will also be releasing special graduation tools like filters, stickers and special messenger rooms for graduates to meet in.
Marne Levine, Facebook’s VP of Global Partnerships says on her blog, “This is a bittersweet time for the Class of 2020. As students head toward graduation, it’s not the day they might have imagined—no processions, no diploma handoffs, no parties. They are commencing at a time of great uncertainty. But graduating is a tremendous achievement, and worth pausing to celebrate even in these circumstances.”
To place a personal touch on this event, Facebook will be doing shout outs to specific schools state by state so that seniors can be recognized and celebrated. For those who cannot watch the entire event, Instagram will be posting sections of the event on their stories.
YouTube has also decided to jump on this idea of honoring graduates and will be hosting a multi-hour event called “Dear Class of 2020” on June 6 with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with special guests Lady Gaga, BTS, Alicia Keys and more. They will be showcasing student stories to honor seniors and crowdsourcing a commencement speech.
Susane Daniels, global head of content for YouTube says, “Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement. We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”
It is not the same as what every senior imagined this day would look like, but it’s something that they will never forget, and hopefully, this event will spark some joy and hope for what is ahead in their bright futures.
Will this be the same or better than having an actual live event with all of your friends and family surrounding you? No, of course not! And that isn’t what Facebook or YouTube is trying to do. This will give seniors something to honor them and their hard work and let them know that we are all in this together. We salute every graduate who has been resilient and who will rise up from this. The future is bright, and each senior will get to experience a little bit of that light during these celebrations.