One of the biggest milestones that students look forward to throughout their educational career is the high school or college commencement. Donned in their cap and gown, students have proudly walked across a stage in front of their peers, educators and families, to receive their diploma or degree in-hand, perhaps followed up by a hug or handshake from their educators, as a sign of congratulations and respect for all of their hard work over the course of many years.
This year, the high school and college graduating class of 2020 will not have the privilege of experiencing that long-standing graduation tradition due to the COVID-19 pandemic...at least not in-person. Traditional graduation ceremonies have been added to the list of canceled events amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that does not mean that graduating students will not receive the affirmation and recognition they deserve.
As with many other adaptations and transitions that have been made in the world of education during this unprecedented time, some communities have devised workarounds to the traditional graduation ceremony. Commencements ceremonies have gone quarantine-style in ways that adhere to social distancing guidelines. Some schools are hosting virtual ceremonies or even drive-by ceremonies. North Salem High School is planning on a drive-in theater graduation ceremony, where students will be able to decorate their cars, hear the valedictorian speech blaring from a 56-foot-wide high-definition screen, and receive their diplomas from a 6-foot retractable arm device handled by their principal.
On June 6, President Obama and Mrs. Obama will partake in YouTube's "Dear Class of 2020," which will begin live-streaming at 3 pm EST. The Obamas will deliver separate virtual commencement addresses and a joint message to students and will feature global leaders, celebrities, creators, and more. Graduates will be able to sign their names on the Dear Class of 2020 Shout Out Board here.
Additionally, there will be a 1-hour multimedia event titled "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020," that will air on Saturday, May 16, on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC as well as other broadcast and digital streaming partners, according to ABC News. Special guests will include LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R. and Ben Platt. Barak Obama will also participate in a 2-hour virtual HBCU commencement program called "Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition" which will livestream on May 16 at 2 pm EST. Among other virtual graduation celebrations, Facebook's 2020 Graduation Event on May 15 will feature a commencement address by Oprah Winfrey and a lineup of other celebrities, including Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina and Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles.
On social media, local and national "Adopt a High School Senior" Facebook groups have been popping up, where parents and students post photos and blurbs about graduating seniors and members of the community can "adopt" them in the comment section, send them gift baskets, gift cards, and presents in recognition of their achievements.
Some communities such as Spotsylvania County and Knox County schools will still host controlled, socially distanced, and in-person graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020.
The 2020 graduation season will surely be out of the ordinary. What is your school doing for its graduation ceremony this year? If you're part of the graduating class of 2020, what would your ideal graduation ceremony look like? Share your thoughts below.