Since it hit the United States in early 2020, the coronavirus has forced in-person high school and college graduation ceremonies to be canceled. But if you're a graduating senior, there's still hope for a memorable celebration. In April, a high school senior's tweet went viral after he asked President Barack Obama to deliver a virtual commencement address to the class of 2020 — and now, Obama has delivered. On May 5, YouTube announced a "Dear Class of 2020" special with commencement addresses from Barack and Michelle Obama, and appearances by multiple celebrities. With such a star-studded lineup in the works, these tweets about the Obamas hosting the "Dear Class of 2020" commencement show just how excited students are.
On April 14, a Los Angeles high school senior named Lincoln Debenham tweeted his request for Barack Obama to deliver a nationwide commencement address "in an unprecedented time." Just three weeks later, on May 5, the Obamas announced that they would be headlining graduation festivities for 2020, including YouTube's “Dear Class of 2020” June 6 in partnership with the former first lady's "Reach Higher" education initiative. The virtual graduation ceremony will also feature commencement speeches from BTS, Lady Gaga, and Malala Yousafzai, as well as appearances by Alicia Keys, Zendaya, and Kelly Rowland. According to Variety, the "Dear Class of 2020" special will stream on the YouTube Originals channel, as well as YouTube’s Learn@Home site. If you're graduating this year, you can head over to the stream now to set a reminder for the ceremony and sign your name to the Dear Class of 2020 Shout Out Board.
After YouTube announced this virtual, nationwide commencement ceremony, people across the United States — and even in other countries — could not contain their excitement and disbelief.
Debenham, the senior who tweeted his request for Obama to host a virtual commencement, also shared his excitement.
The June 6 "Dear Class of 2020" special isn't the only graduation event that the former president and first lady will participate in. On May 16, Barack Obama will deliver a televised commencement address alongside high school students who work with the Obama Foundation. According to People, this primetime special — called "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" — will air on major TV networks, as well as on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok. As is the case with "Dear Class of 2020," "Graduate Together" will also include other celebrities, including Megan Rapinoe, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, and Yara Shahidi.
Also on May 16, Barack Obama will also participate in "Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition," a two-hour virtual HBCU commencement special in which Obama is slated to deliver a special message to graduates. In an Instagram post announcing these upcoming commencement events, Obama noted that he and Michelle are "excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020."
"I’ve always loved joining commencements — the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice," Obama wrote. "Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones."
Whether you're graduating this year or simply want to tune into this festival-style series of commencements, there are a variety of speakers and performers scheduled for each of these events. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the Obamas still want to celebrate high school and college graduations across the country.