5 Ways for Students to Share Their Voice

Students today have a lot to say about their education. Here are ways we can be sure we're listening.

By Team XQ

Many of you have already experienced this first-hand—having to break the news to high school seniors that their graduation was either canceled or postponed. Although your school buildings are closed, the Class of 2020 can still #GraduateTogether.

Join us in honoring the high school seniors who deserve to experience this classic rite of passage on May 16, for GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020—airing everywhere on TV and social media (more details in the XQ-Xtra).

And in this very special issue of Give Me Five, we’d like to kick off our May theme of Youth Voice & Choice by amplifying the voice of high school seniors, and students everywhere.

SPEAK: Seniors Share a Message to Other Grads    

One of the great things about a remote graduation ceremony is that more than one student has an opportunity to step up to the mic. We’re inviting seniors to share a message to the high school Class of 2020—and the entire country—on Graduate Together.

Why it matters: This is their chance to send a message of hope to the more than 3 million seniors who are sharing the same experience. We’re looking for submissions that are:

  • Heartfelt and hopeful
  • Video
  • 2–3 minutes

Extra credit: Ask high school seniors to share their message here.

ENJOY: Seniors Give Thanks to Educators

Graduation is a moment for students to reflect on everything they’ve accomplished over the last 13 years. But they didn’t get to this point alone. We’re asking high school seniors to give a shoutout to educators who impacted their life, and in a BIG way—on primetime television.

Why it matters: Graduation is a milestone for educators, too. You’ve been there for your students every step of the way. And you deserve just as much recognition as they do. We’re looking for submissions that are:

  • Sincere and earnest
  • Video or PDF/Word Doc
  • 10–15 seconds or 150-word written response

Extra Credit: High school seniors can give educators a shoutout here.

SPREAD: Words of Wisdom From the Class of 2020

Sometimes, students are more grown-up than the actual grownups and see things from a perspective we just don’t have. Help us give them an opportunity to share a word of advice that hopefully inspires an entire nation.

Why it matters: This prompt gives seniors a chance to be the experts and share advice with adults and students who’ll come after them. We’re looking for submissions that are:

  • Inspiring and motivational
  • Video or PDF/Word Doc
  • 2–3 minutes or 300-word written response

Extra credit: Encourage seniors to share their advice with fellow grads.

CAPTURE: A Picture Tells a Thousand Word


This story…actually, let’s hear it from the student who took the photo above.

“Though this time has taken a lot from me, it has also made me reflect on the things I am so thankful for. My parents, who I have recently realized, are the most patient people in the world and are really bad at board games. And for the sunshine that decided to come through my window today and remind me that there is still light in this world even when it all seems so dark.”

Why it matters: This photo and quote is part of the #ByStudentsForStudents initiative on Instagram. At a time when it feels like the whole world is working through feelings of stress and anxiety, it’s more important than ever for students (and adults) to find a creative outlet to let it all out.

Extra credit: See this student’s story and the stories of students nationwide.

LISTEN: Powerful Words From a High Schooler

“It’s difficult to put feelings about all of this into words, in part because of how many emotions there are to feel. The whole world feels as if it’s crumbling and yet we’re also experiencing extraordinary acts of kindness from our friends and neighbors.”

Why it matters: Sometimes, honesty is the best policy. And we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. But the truth is that not all students feel safe enough to share what they really think or how they really feel. It’s up to us, the adults, to help them find the strength to do so.

Extra credit: Read this student’s incredibly insightful story.


Tune in…

Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020

Saturday, May 16

8 P.M. PT/ET

7 P.M. CT/MT

But we don’t just want you to watch. We also want you to be a part of it. Because we’re not just honoring seniors, we’re honoring the educators and families who helped them along the way.

Join us, and let’s all #GraduateTogether.