Commencement ceremonies across the country have been canceled due to COVID-19, but the commitment, determination and spirits of the Class of 2020 remain high.
To recognize the more than 3 million graduating seniors nationwide — and to give them a first-of-its-kind celebration they’ll never forget — XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation have announced an upcoming special called Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.
The one-hour primetime event will air simultaneously across ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC on May 16, and will also be available to stream on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Complex Networks, PEOPLE and other online platforms.
“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics,” LeBron James, who will address graduates during the broadcast, said 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.”
“With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time,” James, 35, added. “These students have worked incredibly hard for this, and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized.”
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Produced by Done + Dusted and SpringHill Entertainment, Graduate Together will be curated by high school students and educators across the country with the support of the American Federation of Teachers.
In addition to the NBA star, the commercial-free broadcast will feature a collection of commencement addresses and celebrity performances by Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Ben Platt and others.
“Our country’s teachers and support personnel have been on the front lines keeping students engaged, comforted, and supported during this time of incredible upheaval. Educators want their kids to be okay,” Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. “And even if we are physically apart, we are eager to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside parents, family members, and caregivers as we try to bring this school year to a meaningful close.”
“We are grateful to all our teachers and school staff and proud to join in this effort to bring together education professionals from across the country and honor graduates as they embark on their next journey,” Weingarten continued.
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The program is also planning to feature profiles of students and educators who have made a difference in their schools and communities.
To help tell these inspirational stories, the show’s producers are inviting graduates, teachers, and parents to share their achievements, real-world advice, and heartfelt thanks for a chance to be featured on the broadcast and in an upcoming issue of PEOPLE.
Those interested in nominating an outstanding senior or educator worthy of recognition — or yourself! — can visit GraduateTogether2020.com. Up to five featured graduates will be eligible to receive a $5,000 award. Entries must be received by Friday, May 8 at 11:59 p.m. PT.
“While this won’t be the graduation experience were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special,” James said. “Because they deserve it.”
Graduate Together is set to air on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
For more information on Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, visit graduatetogether2020.com, and check out the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now. (People.com Latest News) More