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Hey Class of 2020, Let’s #GraduateTogether

By 11:57am PST May 14, 2020

It’s safe to say that the Class of 2020 has faced a senior year like none other in history. School closures created unprecedented challenges for schools, students, and families. We know that many of us are just trying to stay afloat during these extraordinary times. We know it’s hard, but we know that we’ll get through this.

We’ve seen students and teachers across the country write a story of transformation. We’ve watched the school year come to a halt and witnessed many time-honored high school milestones like graduation evaporate. And we want to show the Class of 2020 that we see and appreciate their resilience by honoring them with a first-of-its-kind graduation.

Students from XQ schools across the country have opened up about the importance of these milestones. Juan—a high school senior from Houston, Texas—explained that “Graduating from high school is just as important as graduating from college. No one in my family graduated from high school, except for my sister and cousin. It meant so much not only to me but to my family as well.”

We want to recognize the more than 3 million high school seniors like Juan who are expected to graduate with a ceremony built together.

Together, we can celebrate how special the Class of 2020 is and acknowledge their ability to adapt to an ever-changing world. We want to give America’s high school seniors the chance to #GraduateTogether.

WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW TO #GRADUATETOGETHER

We are just days away from a first-of-its-kind national graduation ceremony, and we wanted to share all the details to make sure that you can watch the extraordinary event, participate in a live conversation, and celebrate the Class of 2020!

Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 will air Saturday, May 16th at 8 PM ET/PT, 7 PM CT on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, The CW, Freeform, Univision, and more. Additionally, you can stream the event on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, PEOPLE, SiriusXM, Complex, and more starting at 8 PM PT.

This celebration is not to be a solitary one! To help you reach out and engage with your friends and family safely, we encourage you to Facetime your friends and watch together or create our Facebook or Twitter Watch Party.

If you want to join a larger community of families, parents, educators, and students celebrating the Class of 2020, you can join us in our celebration by:

    • Joining the conversation and community. You can join a larger community celebrating the first-ever national graduation by posting and sharing your reactions on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok using the hashtag #GraduateTogether.
    • Submitting to the Twitter Time Capsule. During the live stream of Graduate Together, XQ will be live Tweeting and creating a “time-capsule” inspired thread full of high school memories & photos.
    • Participating in a national yearbook. If you are a member of the Class of 2020, we want you to submit photos for the first-ever National High School Yearbook in partnership with JR’s global Inside Out participatory photo project. Yes, that means we want every high school senior in America to participate! There’s even a cool Snapchat filter for students to use and submit photos through social media.

KEEP THE CELEBRATION GOING!

Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 is just the beginning of our celebration for the Class of 2020. We plan to keep the celebration going after the show with a live after-party on TikTok. Please come and join the fun!

And, if you want to bring the celebration to the seniors in your community locally, please check out our Virtual High School Graduation Toolkit. Or, if you are looking to join a larger community trying to rethink what high school can be—remotely and beyond—join the Rethink Together Forum.

ANNOUNCING #GRADUATETOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020

We’re partnering with The Lebron James Family Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to celebrate high school seniors throughout the country with a first-of-its-kind national graduation. We built an all-star roster—with the likes of LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Megan Rapinoe, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Ben Platt, and others—to help us throw a first-of-its-kind graduation ceremony. We recently enlisted Kane Brown, Lana Condor, David Dobrik, Dolan Twins, KAROL G, Liza Koshy, Maren Morris, National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson, Olivia Wilde, and Zendaya to help us celebrate the Class of 2020!


And in extremely exciting news, President Obama will congratulate the Class of 2020 on their accomplishments over the past four years. The message comes at a perfect time as the nation begins to reflect on the past two months. “This high school graduation season will be anything but ordinary—but that’s all the more reason why the Class of 2020 deserves extraordinary advice, heartfelt encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about facing new challenges in an uncertain world,” said XQ CEO and founder Russlynn Ali.

Most importantly, our celebration will include a celebration from the people who’ve supported our students the most throughout their education: their teachers. “Our country’s teachers and support personnel have been on the front lines keeping students engaged, comforted, and supported during this time of incredible upheaval. Educators want their kids to be okay. And even if we are physically apart, we are eager to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside parents, family members, and caregivers as we try to bring this school year to a meaningful close,” explained Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

THE MOMENTUM DOESN’T STOP THERE

We know that this time has not been an easy one. It exacerbated existing inequalities in our educational systems. In response, we watched students, educators, families, and communities work to mitigate the tough realities that many of us face. Heroic responses from school educators made sure all students get things they need to succeed whether that’s digital devices and Wifi or food and basic supplies.

The #GraduateTogether partners are committed to supporting the needs of students in school and beyond in order to make sure that all students succeed. That means meeting the real-time and long-term needs of our students and graduates. To help meet the needs of vulnerable youth during this time, philanthropic and corporate giving will be directed to:

  • DonorsChoose, a nonprofit which gives public school teachers working in high-needs communities the opportunity to request the materials and resources their students need to keep learning.
  • America’s Food Fund, a nonprofit focused on funding hunger-relief organizations and ensuring students who rely on school-lunch programs still have safe, consistent access to meals during COVID-19.

TUNE-IN MAY 16

Young people across the country have made it clear that they don’t want to miss out on a graduation ceremony. And, we’ve decided that even with physical distance, we can create a once-in-a-lifetime event to mark this once-in-a-lifetime moment for the senior class of 2020. Our CEO and co-founder, Russlynn Ali, put it best: “Graduate Together is America’s chance to give high school seniors the recognition they deserve as they embark on the challenges of adulthood with enormous courage and resilience.”


Do you want to share how your school is keeping school traditions alive? Do you have reflections on school closures that you want to share? Send an email to blog@xqinstitute.org.

SCHOOL CLOSURE RESOURCES:

SCHOOL CLOSURE STORIES: 

Stories and insights from the changemakers rethinking high school—in XQ schools and beyond.