You’re officially invited to one of the biggest graduation ceremonies you’ll probably ever attend, and LeBron James has sent the invitation. He’s coordinating a special online virtual graduation at a time when high school seniors across the United States can’t march because of COVID-19 school closures.
More than 3 million high school seniors from various states will be a part of the unprecedented event that’s being called “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.” James, who’ll host it, has partnered with XQ Institute and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
The commercial-free graduation hour-long event will air simultaneously on NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC while being streamed on a number of sites like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
Like your typical pre-COVID-19 graduation ceremony, there will be commencement speeches, but it’s safe to say that most ceremonies don’t include star-studded guest visits. Pharrell Williams, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Lena Waithe and YBN Cordae are all scheduled to either show up or perform.
Graduating seniors will have a hand in putting together the ceremony with assistance from the American Federation of Teachers. Students’ families and educators have been asked to submit photos and videos that will possibly be used during the event, while using the hashtag “#GraduateTogether.”
James also partnered with DonorsChoose and America’s Food Fund through his The LeBron James Family Foundation to help those in underserved communities with the event.
DonorsChoose gives school supplies and resources to public schools that are desperately in need, and America’s Food Fund “provides funding relief to organizations working to feed the country’s most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19,” according to its website.
James said that it’s crucial that America honors graduating seniors and not let their major accomplishment be treated casually.
“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics,” he said Wednesday in a statement. “It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together — students, parents, educators, community members, and everyone around them.”
“These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized,” James continued. “While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it.”
Yara Shahidi has promoted the event on her Instagram page already, and so has Waithe.
“Class of 2020… we see you and we want to celebrate YOU!” it says on Waithe’s page. “We will not let your last 12 years of studying and hustling be overlooked or forgotten. Period.”
James has been heavily involved with helping students, especially those in underserved areas, since he opened his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, in 2018.
He announced a partnership with Graduation Hotels soon after its opening to provide temporary housing for students and their families that need it.
The graduation special will air on May 16, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.