National News

Kentucky Class of 2020 encouraged to participate in national ‘Graduate Together’ telecast Saturday

Kentucky high school seniors and teachers are encouraged to share their stories and participate in the national “Graduate Together” telecast at 8 p.m. this Saturday, May 16.

“Graduate Together: America Honors the Class of 2020,” is a one-hour primetime special that will be aired simultaneously by more than 20 broadcast TV and digital streaming partners, including ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.

With traditional high school graduations across the country canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of Graduate Together is to give the nation’s more than 3 million seniors a special, inspiring send-off they can enjoy with family, friends and others across the nation. It is the first-of-its-kind national graduation ceremony, with former President Barack Obama giving the commencement address.

Curated by high school students and educators throughout the country, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers, the national commercial-free broadcast will include a collection of commencement addresses, celebrity performances and inspirational vignettes.

Graduate Together is inviting seniors, teachers and families to submit their own stories, videos and photos online on the project’s website for consideration to be included in the telecast. Seniors also can submit their photos for a national digital yearbook and each state also will have its own page for the telecast on the project’s website.

As part of the effort, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) submitted a two-minute video tribute from Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown that includes dozens of photographs of Kentucky’s Class of 2020 shared with the department through their high schools. Kentucky’s Graduate Together page will also include a story highlighting our students and a column from Sarah Davenport, a Fleming County High School senior who is a member of KDE’s Commissioner Student Advisory Council.

In addition to the telecast, selected stories will be shared on multiple social media, digital and print platforms. All are encouraged to post their submissions on social media using the hashtag #GraduateTogether.

“This is a meaningful and fun way to celebrate our seniors and the Class of 2020, who rose to unprecedented challenges after their world changed dramatically,” said Brown. “They deserve this honor. While they might not be able to have a traditional high school graduation, we hope this will give them something special to remember.”

The ceremony is being presented by the LeBron James Family Foundation with the XQ Institute, a group dedicated to rethinking the high school experience, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation Partner.

“… Education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together – students, parents, educators, community members and everyone around them,” said LeBron James, the former NBA star and school founder. “With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time.

“These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized.”

Also included in the star-studded lineup for the virtual commencement are First Lady Michelle Obama; musical acts the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, H.E.R. and Pharrell Williams; Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai; and many more.

The website includes a “Graduate Together Toolkit” where educators can plan their own virtual graduation ceremony and community celebrations.

For more information on where to watch on TV or online, visit the Graduate Together website.

In addition to honoring seniors, the event has partnered with Donors Choose to support supplies for teachers in high-need communities and America’s Food Fund for hunger-relief organizations that help students who rely on school lunch programs.

From Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of education

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