5 Resources to Celebrate High School Seniors in Time for Graduation

The class of 2020 is experiencing a senior year like no other class. Here are 5 resources for us to honor and celebrate their graduation.

By Team XQ

Although school buildings are closed, more than 3 million high school seniors are set to graduate this year. Since we’re highlighting the XQ School Design Principle Youth Voice & Choice, we wanted to give a little inspiration to help you honor grads in your neighborhood. We promise you don’t want to miss this week’s XQ X-tra that will help you do exactly that.

SHARE: Dear Class of 2020, You Are Not Forgotten

The 2020 Lousiana State Teacher of the Year Chris Dier wrote an open letter to high school seniors, and it went viral for a reason.

Why it matters: Mr. Dier was a high school senior when Hurricane Katrina devastated his community. He knows what it’s like to miss out on those same end-of-year traditions. So in a way, he knows how this story ends (and so do we). Not only did the city of New Orleans and its surrounding areas rebuild itself, but they did it while the entire country cheered them on with an outpour of love and support.

He writes, “I remember leaving my school on a Friday afternoon with my buddies only to never return to that school. Instead, I stayed in a shelter and finished high school in a different state. It was tough, and I had to find solace in places I never envisioned. It was hard, but we made it through. You may not know me, but I feel your pain; it stings. We as educators mourn with you. You are not forgotten.”

Extra credit: Read Chris Dier’s full letter, and use it as inspiration to write your own.

TRY: Graduation in 2020 is an Opportunity to Get Creative

High school seniors are disappointed that they’re missing out on graduation, a time-honored rite of passage.

Why it matters: High school communities everywhere are coming up with clever ways to commemorate seniors as the end of the school year comes to a close. Edutopia shares some of the ways schools across the country are getting creative in honor of the Class of 2020:

  • Line streets with lamppost banners of senior portraits
  • Hold small-group graduation ceremonies and mail diplomas later
  • Use a drive-in movie theatre where graduates and families can stay in their cars
  • Host a virtual graduation ceremony using a video conferencing or social media platform

Extra credit: Get the details of how schools are pulling it off.

DISCOVER: Commencement Speeches of The Ages

“Your diploma does not represent the end of your education, but the beginning of your continuing education.”

This is a quote about lifelong learning from the 2010 commencement speech Record Producer and XQ Board Member, Jimmy Iovine gave to the University of Southern California graduates.

Why it matters: NPR released a list of 350+ publicly available commencement speeches high schools can include during a virtual graduation ceremony.

  • Browse speeches by sentiment
  • Search specific people
  • Explore speech transcripts or videos

Extra credit: Check out some of the best commencement speeches, ever.

REPRESENT: Proud Members of The Class of 2020

Check out these custom Class of 2020 Zoom backgrounds, posters, and senior superlative social media templates.

Why it matters: While high school seniors will miss out on an in-person graduation, there’s no reason we can’t build on the tradition in fresh ways.

Extra credit:

Download Zoom backgrounds and posters or use them as inspiration to create your own.

Get students excited about graduation with these Instagram templates.

EXPLORE: College And University Campus Tours 

College and university buildings are closed, too. That means several graduating high school seniors haven’t had the opportunity to see their prospective or future college campuses at all.

Why it matters: High school seniors and their families are turning to the web for virtual tours of college and university campuses. EdNavigators created a guide that can help students and families on this journey:

  • A list of the best college and university tour sites
  • FAQs about college planning and applications
  • Financial aid resources

Extra credit: Share this resource guide with graduating seniors and their families.

How to Host a Virtual Graduation Ceremony 

We hope you tuned in to honor high school seniors in last night’s Graduate Together national event. And we want you to know you can do the same in your community, too.

The Virtual High School Graduation Toolkit offers tips, resources, and inspiration to:

  • Get Organized
  • Plan Your Own Virtual Graduation Ceremony
  • Create an Interactive Graduation Experience
  • Manage Ceremony Logistics
  • Organize Wrap-Around Experiences

Download this free step-by-step guide.