The class of 2020's graduation ceremony will look a little different this year. With in-person ceremonies canceled everywhere, YouTube Originals' has announced "Dear Class of 2020," a virtual event that will be headlined by Barack and Michelle Obama. The former President and First Lady will each deliver commencement addresses during the multi-hour special, as well as share a joint message. Michelle's Higher Reach Initiative will also host a full hour of content to kick off the event.
"Dear Class of 2020" will celebrate high school and college seniors who are missing graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will air on YouTube on Saturday, June 6, and several other high-profile speakers will make appearances. Those set to give speeches and shoutouts include BTS, Lady Gaga, Zendaya, Chloe x Halle, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, and Kelly Rowland.
To the #Classof2020, I know how hard you all have worked to make it to graduation. You’ve put in long hours studying. You’ve thrown yourself into extracurricular activities and after-school jobs. And you’ve done everything you can to be there for your friends through it all. Some of you will be the first in your families to graduate from high school or college, making this occasion all the more special. And I know that none of you imagined you would be closing this chapter of your life through a computer or phone screen. But I still want to make sure you still get the celebration you deserve. That’s why, through my @reachhigher Initiative, I’m working with @youtube Originals to host a special virtual graduation for you on June 6th. Whether you’re graduating from high school, college, or any other kind of school––we want you, your family, and all of your loved ones to be a part of this celebration. And we want to do this right for all of you, so I’ll be inviting some very special guests—including @BarackObama—to help ring in this momentous day. RSVP here bit.ly/RHGraduation and then tune in on June 6th at yt.be/classof2020. #ReachHigher
A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on May 5, 2020 at 8:22am PDT
“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,” said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Content for YouTube. “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.”
The special will also be available to stream on the Learn@Home site and feature student stories from around the world. YouTube is partnering with Higher Reach, Born This Way Foundation, the Malala Fund, TODAY, and Ideas United to honor graduates. Other special appearances during "Dear Class of 2020" include former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Malala Yousafzai; and YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, and The Try Guys.
I’ve always loved joining commencements––the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones. pic.twitter.com/ngR2ykx3A2
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 5, 2020
This isn't the only A-list commencement address happening this year. Barack Obama will give remarks during the May 16 primetime special Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020. That event will be broadcast across all four major networks as well as several streaming partners at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. It will feature guest appearances from LeBron James, the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, and Lena Waithe, among others.
Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement speech for a Facebook commencement event, which will include cameos from Awkwafina, Simone Biles, Jennifer Garner, and Lil Nas X, according to The Hollywood Reporter.