The best commencement

You all worked so hard the past four years and deserve the best commencement we can bring to you and your family.”

-LeBron James

LeBron James announced via his social channels last month that his LeBron James Family Foundation would be teaming up with the educational nonprofit XQ to provide a “Graduate Together” event that will air on 20 broadcast and digital streaming partners including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m.

It was the best news any member of the Class of 2020 could imagine, until the news got even better. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed to deliver a televised prime-time commencement address for the high school Class of 2020 during the event that will also feature Malala Yousafzai, Ben Platt, Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe and H.E.R. Several high school students from Chicago public schools and the Obama Youth Jobs Corps will also join, among others.

The one-hour special is officially titled, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” and is hosted by the education advocacy group XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation.

“I wanted to help create a show that looked and felt very different from traditional specials. Something that spoke to kids in a different way. These kids worked so hard to graduate and what is happening to them is truly unfair,” James said in a statement to The Associated Press towards the end of last month.

“I hope we can give them and their families something cool that makes their accomplishment feel special.”

Perhaps more than basketball itself, the biggest passion in the life of LeBron James is probably education. School is often one of the metaphors that LeBron reaches for when he wants to make a comparison and it was a time in his life, especially in high school, that he associates with some great times in his life. He wants to make sure that other kids who are graduating in a bizarre situation in 2020 have something that makes them feel special under the circumstances.

The Class of 2020 won’t have the opportunity for a traditional graduation ceremony with a walk alongside their classmates, sharing a final moment with their teachers before they move on to their next life. Also, they will not have the moment to celebrate the accomplishment that it is in the way that classes before them had. Although it won’t be the same, LeBron has worked feverishly with his educational partners to make sure the Class of 2020 has its moment.

“This high school graduation season will be anything but ordinary — but that’s all the more reason why the Class of 2020 deserves extraordinary advice, heartfelt encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about facing new challenges in an uncertain world,” Russlynn Ali, CEO and co-founder of XQ Institute, said in a statement.

“We are grateful to President Obama for giving this gift to our nation’s three million high school seniors as they #GraduateTogether,” she added.

For more information including updates, follow: www.graduatetogether.com.

Lebronwire.usatoday.com, Associated Press, and graduatetogether.com contributed to the compilation of this report.

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