Stars Power Virtual Graduation


Meghan Braddy , Reporter

Towards the end of the school year, the most anticipated and important event for seniors is their long-awaited graduation from high school and college. Students work hard through four years of high school and then college just so they can stand on a stage at the end of the year and be handed their diploma. It’s a huge milestone: the one event that exemplifies everything they have accomplished from freshman year and beyond. 

This year, COVID-19 has canceled public events, including graduation ceremonies everywhere. Whether students are graduating from high school or college this year, they won’t be able to have their loved ones watch them walk across the stage. This is why YouTube Originals and Facebook decided to each sponsor a virtual graduation event featuring different artists, commencement speakers, and celebrities to help graduating students through the pain of not being able to go to an actual ceremony. These events helped multiple seniors around the world feel comforted, appreciated, and acknowledged for all of the hard work they’ve completed for their past four years of learning. 

Facebook had its virtual graduation event for the Class of 2020 on May 15th at 11:00 AM. The ceremony was definitely one to remember, as it generated a large audience from the star-power alone. They featured a cast of celebrities who appeared via conference call, including Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, and Simone Biles. Oprah Winfrey shared a special commencement address along with some words of wisdom for the audience watching at home. Cyrus even performed a special version of her famed song, “The Climb”, which she dedicated to the graduating class who can’t have a procession, diploma handoff, or even a party to celebrate. 

Since Facebook’s virtual graduation, YouTube has been working hard to one-up them. They decided to have a celebration of their own on June 6th at 12:00 PM entitled, “Dear Class of 2020.” The event will be live-streamed from the YouTube Originals channel and feature an even bigger cast of celebrities, with commencement speakers such as Lady Gaga, BTS, and Malala Yousafzai. There’ll also be special appearances by Zendaya, Alicia Keys, The Try Guys, and Kerry Washington. The virtual event will have individual commencement speeches from Barack and Michelle Obama, whose ‘Reach Higher’ initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration. 

Senior Delilah Lahens said, “Graduation was one of the events I was looking forward to the most at the end of the year next to prom, and the fact that I can’t walk across that stage to receive my diploma is really disappointing. I really appreciate everything the administration is doing to honor us, but I find it more exciting that social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are finding ways to honor students like me around the world. I watched the Facebook virtual graduation event the other day and I couldn’t get over how much celebrities care about the Class of 2020. It was awesome to watch!” 

Though not executed in the traditional sense, both virtual graduation events offered the graduating senior Class of 2020 something to look forward and tune in to. With schools shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have been trying to figure out ways to move campus life and events online. Having virtual graduation events with influential celebrities was just the thing to offer some solace to disappointed seniors. It’s just entertainment worth watching, and a chance to bring a lot more eyes to the platforms now and in the future. It’s a chance for everyone to be able to connect over a shared screen and reflect on the achievements they’ve had during their four years in college and high school.