Because of the pandemic, traditional commencement activities went online for many of the nation’s 2020 high school graduates. It was a let-down for those looking forward to hearing their hard work rewarded.
But thanks to the contributions of about two dozen celebrities, the graduates are not forgotten. Today, they received words of inspiration via YouTube cameos, starting with a joint welcome from former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, followed by messages from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish and more.
The Obamas, looking relaxed and glad to be back in the spotlight, were a particular highlight for many.”Hello everybody and congratulations to the class of 2020,” Barack Obama began his joint speech with his wife in a pre-taped recording.
“It’s a huge day for all of you,” Michelle said. “We couldn’t be more excited to be celebrating with you today… Now while you might not get the experience of sweating under your cap and gown under the hot sun, get embarrassed by your family yelling out your name when you walk across the stage, you still have all those people with you today.”
She added, “These folks deserve your love and gratitude for helping you get here. So give them a squeeze if they’re with you right now…”Barack chimed in, “Especially the dads!””If they’re not [with you], give them a call later. That’s from the moms, this is their day too,” Michelle said.
“Today is the culmination of a long journey,” Barack Obama said. “Think back to when you were starting your first year. You were probably just hoping by graduation day, you’d met some new people, learned some new skills and got yourself ready for the first step, maybe college, maybe grad school, maybe your first job,” Barack said. “You accomplished all that. And just as you were rounding the final turn, the world through a pandemic your way.”
Michelle Obama added, “And these past few months, you had to reach even higher, you weren’t just adjusting to a virtual classroom, you were helping your teachers adjust their audio so the rest of the class could hear. You weren’t just taking your finals online, you were making sure your siblings had enough time on the computer too to finish their work. And you weren’t just hanging out with your friends in your group chat, you were supporting them through all of this uncertainty and loss.”
“That’s a lot to ask of anybody, and I spite of it all, you did it all,” Barack Obama said. “We want you to know that the investment in your education is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. We’ve seen this to be true for decades. The better education you have the more better likely and your families will be to fair.””It’s born out over the past couple months and it will continue to be born out for years to come. So you have done great,” he continued. “Hold your heads high and celebrate.””And go ahead and do a little dance, a cool dance.”
Watch the video of their joint speech above.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.