LeBron James to host virtual graduation for high school seniors amid coronavirus pandemic

Ryan Young
·3-min read

Most graduation ceremonies across the country have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving an estimated 3 million high school seniors without a way to celebrate their newly-achieved diplomas.

LeBron James, however, has found a solution.

James will host a virtual graduation ceremony next month with the help of a star-studded cast, according to The Hollywood Reporter. James teased the event on social media by sharing a photo of him from high school on Wednesday, too.

“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together — students, parents, educators, community members, and everyone around them," James said in a statement, via The Hollywood Reporter. "With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time.

“These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. 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.”

The ceremony, called “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” will be broadcast on the four major networks, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, and digitally on social media on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET, per the report. The hour-long, commercial-free event is being run by James’ production company, SpringHill Productions.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

James will have plenty of help, too. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, musicians Pharrell Williams, Bad Bunny and the Jonas Brothers are among those scheduled to participate in the event — which will include performances, commencement speeches and more. According to ESPN, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Lena Waithe, Ben, Henry and Jonah Platt, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Chika, YBN Cordae and Loren Gray will have also committed to participate.

There were more than 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 60,000 deaths attributed to the virus. The outbreak has forced nearly all schools in the country to cancel classes and shift to virtual learning options through the end of the school year.

While it’s not a traditional graduation, James’ ceremony is the perfect substitute in the midst of a global pandemic.

"It's been a hard few months for all of us, but I especially really feel for the senior class of 2020," James said, via ESPN. "The end of high school and graduation was one of the best memories of my life. It's not fair. Every graduating senior needs to know how much we feel for them and hopefully this can help, even a little. This class is going to be special because they know in a real way how to persevere."

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