Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Graduate Together, Class of 2020 Special. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 16, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEBRON JAMES, ATHLETE: Seniors, tonight is for you. Tonight, we honor 12 years of your hard work of studying, to test, early mornings and late nights. And we honor everyone who got you here, your friends, your family, your community. Class of 2020, this is for you. Every student you see, the videos in our show, the pictures you see around me now are all part of your graduation class and sent in by you guys.
Before we get the show, there's something I want to say to each of you. Thank you. You should have a real graduation, I know. You should have had an incredible senior year, I know that as well. But you made a sacrifice and you did that to keep your community safe and healthy.
On behalf of all of us, thank you. There is no doubt in my mind that the Class of 2020 is going to be something really special. After all of this, you guys are prepared for anything. So, celebrate. Be proud. Tonight is for you. We are all ready for the Class of 2020 to change the world. Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For our turn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, guess what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a senior!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my last year to shine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's our moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it went like --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were creating our own memories.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dancing at homecoming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were racing towards our future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our college decisions came out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing we couldn't do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And everything just changed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, here we are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do we do now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still seniors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is still our turn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the park, a socially acceptable distance away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's still our moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we are transforming our house into an at- home prom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we can overcome this, we can overcome anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't the year we expected. But we're going to make it ours anyway.
JAMES: Right now, all across America, 3.7 million high school seniors and their families are at home together as we gather to honor their journey, 12 years in the making. Join us in celebrating the Class of 2020. Let's graduate together.
CHOIR: [Singing "The Star Spangled Banner."]
ZENDAYA MAREE STOERMER COLEMAN, ACTRESS: Hello, Class of 2020. I just want to give a quick shout out to all the teachers out there. My mother's a teacher so I know how hard you guys are all working.
What makes as senior? Is it the traditions like proms and pranks? Is it the start of a new chapter? Thankfully, being a senior is so much more than just your senior year. It is every moment from day you were born leading up until right now. The tiny ones, the life-changing events, they all add up to make you the Class of 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came into the world just like everyone, ready to make a lot of noise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a dream.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a chaotic world that we did not yet understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But to us, it was new and full of wonder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wave goodbye to a simpler time and say hello to a new chapter, grade school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started to figure out that the world was much bigger than us and embrace technology to connect with it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've collected 400 Silly Bandz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does everybody at school have these?
CROWD: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, things got awkward. We finally got cell phones. And the world was ours, at least until curfew.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at the play, we tried on personalities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We danced a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new era was coming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hallway traffic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll never forget my first day of freshman year. That's when we found our people. We watched the classes before us get their year, their moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we always knew we'd get that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our moment came in a way no one could have expected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we were made for this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know this is no time to be quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were born to make noise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we will not be defeated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a dream
DE CREDENCE (ph): Hi, I'm De Credence.
DERSHANE JOHNSON (ph): I'm a graduate from the academy of music and performing arts at Hamilton High School, Los Angeles, California.
CREDENCE: From Wando High School, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. And up next.
JOHNSON: Please join me as we welcome our next guest.
CREDENCE: The incredible.
CREDENCE AND JOHNSON: Dua Lipa.
DUA LIPA, SINGER: [Singing "Break My Heart."]
BRIAN SIMKINS (ph): Hi, my name is Brian Simkins.
ELINA JERR (ph): My name is Elina Jerr and I'm a senior at Saratoga High School in Saratoga, California.
SIMKINS: I'm a senior at Southborough High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
JERR: And I think you're going to like who's up next.
SIMKINS: My favored comedian of all time.
SIMKINS AND JERR: Kevin Hart.
KEVIN HART, COMEDIAN: Man, they've got me on the same show as L.J. and B.O. That's my nicknames for Lebron and Barack. Yes, you know, we're on a first-name basis. Those are my guys. L.J. and B.O., you guys killed it.
You all, congrats to all graduates. Man, this is so cool. You're so adult. I want to give you all a little history of mine. I graduated from George Washington High School. The class of 1997. As you could probably imagine, I was one of the most popular kids in school. That's a lie. I wasn't. I was definitely one of the funniest.
My most embarrassing moment in high school was when I got caught with sneakers on that were too big. When I was younger, I took my brother's sneakers and wore them to school and they were a size 10. At the time, I was like a size seven. And the reason why I wore them is I felt like girls would like guys with big feet. For whatever reasons. Use your imagination. I did that. That backfired on me.
My locker was one that was constantly clowned because I had everything in it. I was so organized in school. The things I would want to see changed in school. I would definitely want to see more given to the public school systems. I would just want to see our educational upbringing progress. I want financial literacy to be cured because I want us to get the information to our youth so that our youth can grow up and put it to use and do big things in this world.
You guys are our future. You're our future leaders. Understand that, and know that, and stay true to that. Congrats. I'll see you tomorrow.
YARA SHAHIDI, ACTRESS: These last 12 years of school have prepared you to go in the world and be global citizens, just like it's done for me. And even though we're amid circumstances that have effected our families, our friends and communities, I'm inspired by how many of you all continue to ask, how can I be of service? You've asked, what can I do right now for my family, for my neighbor, for my community, for my state, for my world, for my environment?
You've pushed the bounds of what it means to be a hero. And the whole world is witnessing the incredible superpowers of our generation. We see you jumping in, utilizing your tech skills, turning your talents into community activities. You're building Web sites, teaching online science classes, producing virtual dance concerts. And 3-D printing masks. You're using your voices to be advocates.
When I think of the Class of 2020, I think of a quote from one of my inspirations, Author James Baldwin. Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it's faced. This quote feels like our motto because what has been the most extraordinary, during these uncertain times, is that you have continued to push forward. I am so proud to be in community with you all. The Class of 2020.
So, let's keep learning together. Students, educators and families. Go to RethinkTogether.com or text XQ to school. That's XQ to 724665. Congratulations, Class of 2020.
KANE ALLEN BROWN, SINGER: Growing up, my family struggled to make ends meet. One of the things that got me through was knowing to work hard, stay the course and always believe in yourself and your dreams, no matter what. Our student speaker, Priscilla Arceo also understands the same resilience.
MAREN MORRIS, SINGER: Aside from Priscilla's academic achievements, she also volunteers with special needs' kids and was nominated by her fellow teammates as most inspiring. This radiant young woman is here tonight to inspire us all. Please welcome Priscilla Arceo.
PRISCILLA ARCEO: I'm Priscilla Arceo, and I'm a graduating senior from Santa Ana High School in California. I'm honored to be speaking with you all today as my high school's valedictorian. This fall, I'll be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring in English. And I'll be the first in my family to go to college.
But I wasn't always sure I'd get to this day. When I was six, my mom made a difficult decision, leaving my abusive father. It meant we would be safe. But it also meant we would be poor and she would work shift after shift to pay our bills. I'm here because of my mom's hard work and sacrifice. But all that she did for me wasn't always seen or appreciated by others.
ARCEO: That's my biggest motivator. Because when I'm successful and come back to help my community, her hard work will have been for something bigger than the two of us. Class of 2020, we're all facing our own challenges as a generation, as a community, and as a planet.
But I know we can overcome them. We've shown the world what it means to be creative, resourceful and resilient. I never thought I'd have to learn calculus over Zoom. We all lost out on prom and a proper graduation. We're sad every day that we didn't get to say goodbye to our classmates when schools closed down. And who knew we'd have to send I miss you postcards to friends who live just two blocks away.
But I hope that stories like mine remind you that when we get knocked down, we get up stronger. So, Class of 2020, let's celebrate ourselves for getting to this moment. And thank the people who helped us. We did it together.
TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, ACTOR: Hello, to the Class of 2020. I'm happy to get a chance to be here and to celebrate with all of you tonight. I can't imagine what the last couple of months have been like for students, let alone for high school seniors not being able to attend your graduation ceremonies.
I'm joined by this year's 2020 graduates from LaGuardia High School. I want to shout out three of my own. Mr. Lobenhofer, Miss Delesline (ph) and Miss Lawton. Thank you for your valiant efforts to teach me the art of statistics. Thank you for everything. Congratulations to the Class of 2020. Be well, be safe. Peace and love.
SOSALOS KRISTOL (ph): Hi, I'm Sosalos Kristol, saying thank you for teaching me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you (INAUDIBLE) from Luigi (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to thank Miss Lavender (ph).
RODNEY ROBINSON, 2019 NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR: My teachers see the future nested, you the Class of 2020 have been tasked to change the world and just know, every teacher in America has your back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite teacher, Miss Lenfreddy (ph), has gone way beyond the normal role of a teacher. She drove by all 150 of her student's houses just to lift everyone's spirits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We miss you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to get out and I have to see these kids. And I need know that everyone is doing OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to thank my teacher, Mr. Alex Anhol (ph), for helping me start my own small business at 17.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say thank you to my teacher, Mr. Ozzom (ph). He showed us how to care for our community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to look at how much trash gets funneled into Houston from our own activities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's one of the solutions that starts with us.
MAGGIE BRODIE: Right now, we're filming from my bedroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our teacher, Mr. Von Foltman (ph), shared that WCTV19 made sure we didn't stop, even during the pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their instinct just kind of took over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's because of you that I'm going to be the first person in my family to go to a four-year college.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the Class of 2020, thank you teachers.
STUDENTS: Thank you.
JUSTIN WATSON (ph): You all, what's up? I'm Justin Watson.
BRANDON TRAN (ph): I'm Brandon Tran, a high school graduate from Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California.
WATSON: I'm from Oakland School for the Arts in Oakland, California.
TRAN: I'm so excited to be selected by "People" magazine --
WATSON: -- to be a part of tonight's event. And I am truly honored to introduce someone who is an amazing leader and is passionate about social justice and equality.
TRAN: A champion both on and off the field.
TRAN AND WATSON: Mag Lina (ph).
MAG LINA, ATHLETE: Every generation has a defining moment. A collective experience that will leave an indelible mark on each member. It becomes part of the fabric that defines who you are and ties you together in ways that last a lifetime. This is your moment and it is unlike any we have seen before.
We don't currently have the benefit of hindsight. We can't yet look back at all we went through and crystalize what we've learned. These moments can feel powerless, purposeless and overwhelming. The cliche would be for me to ask you all to come together. But we aren't together. We are separated in ways we've never experienced and facing a world that will never be the same.
So, I'm not going to ask you to come together. I'm going to ask you to demand better together. For many of you, this year will be the first time you cast a ballot. I urge you not to miss the importance of who makes the decisions in times of crisis and in times of triumph. From your local mayor to your governor, the senator, to the president of the United States. Who is leading matters.
LINA: I know first hand the power of a movement led by and for the next generation. You are that next generation. Take the torch and leave your mark. Plant your stake in the ground and build the future that you want and you believe in. And fight like hell to do it.
ELIZA ANDRA (ph): Hi, my name is Eliza Andra.
IAN COURSEY (ph): I'm Ian Coursey.
ANDRA: I'm a senior at Ocean Township High School in Oakhurst, New Jersey.
COURSEY: At Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland.
ANDRA: Up next, we have an incredible trio.
COURSEY: I'm so excited to introduce --
ANDRA: Henry. COURSEY: Jonah.
ANDRA AND COURSEY: And Ben Platt.
THE PLATT BROTHERS: [Singing "Graduation Medley."]
GABRIELLE SANTIOLA (ph): Hi, my name is Gabrielle Santiola.
JAY O'MALLEY (ph): I'm Jay O'Malley, a senior at Viewmont High School in Bountiful, Utah.
SANTIOLA: (INAUDIBLE) school is in Puerto Rico. Next up.
O'MALLEY: With a message coming all the way from Puerto Rico,
SANTIOLA: (INAUDIBLE.) Bad Bunny.
O'MALLEY: Bad Bunny.
BENITO ANTONIO MARTINEZ OCASIO, SINGER (translated): Congratulations to everyone graduating. I know that we are going through a very difficult and strange time for us. But we have to stay strong, not forget. No, to give thanks and smile, even though I know that sometimes we don't even want to smile. We have to look for a way to do it and stay positive. Work hard on everything that you set out to do, on all your goals.
But it doesn't matter what we achieve. The most important thing is respect for others. It's respect and the values that we put into practice day to day. They are what say who you are. They are what define us as people. Success is not measured in money. Success, to me, is the experiences and memories that we carry in our heart forever.
So, congratulations to everyone graduating, especially all the Latinos. Always be yourselves, because being ourselves is how we are great. Bunny loves you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming up on Graduate Together, we've got Pharrell, a message from Lebron James, performances by H.E.R. and the "Jonas Brothers," featuring Karol G.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Plus, a message from President Barack Obama.
FRAMEL LANJIANI (ph), CARTOON CHARACTER: Hello, graduates. I'm Framel Lanjiani. Thanks for inviting me to your island. It's the first time I've worn pants in weeks. I'm lying. I'm not wearing any pants under this robe.
Anyway, recently, I've learned a lot of important life lessons from Animal Crossing. Lessons like try new things, water your plants, learn from those who don't look like you. Thank you, mom. She has done a lot. And, most importantly, use what the world puts in front of you, especially sticks. Sticks are important. Congrats Class of 2020. See you out there. Can't wait to see what you create in our world. OLIVIA WILDE, ACTRESS: Hi, I'm Olivia Wild. Our next speaker is a
Nobel Prize Laureatte who has spent her life fighting for everyone's right to an education. And we used her name as a code word in "Booksmart," which I'm positive is her least impressive accomplishment, but it means a lot to me. Ladies and gentlemen, Malala.
MALALA YOUSAFZAI, ACTRESS: To all the graduates of 2020, like all of you, I'm also missing my graduation ceremony this year. And we are not alone. Across the world, COVID-19 has forced more than one billion students out of school. But for most of us, this is temporary. We will continue our education and follow our dreams.
But many girls, especially in developing countries, may never return to the classroom. Because of this crisis, they will be forced to (INAUDIBLE) or low-paying jobs to support their families. And when schools reopen, their desks will be empty. They are our peers. They have the same right to education as we do.
So, I ask you to remember them today. As you go out and change the world, don't leave them behind. The Class of 2020 won't be defined by what we lost to this virus but by how we responded to it. The world is yours now. And I can't wait to see what you make of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight is the celebration. A celebration of discovery, courage and unity during a time of crisis. But we also come together tonight to honor the teachers we've lost during this time. Every graduate touched by them will walk forward, made strong by their wisdom. And the Class of 2020 will be their living legacy.
LENA WAITHE, ACTRESS: Congratulations, Class of 2020. I know this has been a challenging year for you all. For some, a challenging four years. But I believe that a little adversity makes for a very compelling story.
So, write a good one. Use your voices and talents to be seen and heard. That's what these next two performers have done. And they've come together to create something pretty special, dedicated to the Class of 2020. It is my pleasure to introduce Chika and Bmike.
JANE CHIKA ORANIKA, SINGER: [Singing "Crown."]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shout out to the class 2020. Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I became a parent --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always thought I would be teaching my kid, I had it all planned out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She came along and just kind of turned that all upside down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It turns out that my kids have taught me so much more than I was ever able to teach them. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are the best teachers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What have I learned from the Class of 2020?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Morgan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Cameron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Jays.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Melissa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And from Eli.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I consider myself tech savvy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's told me how to use Instagram.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Social media.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zoom meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter, Liv, taught me about YouTube and Cody Ko.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TikTok.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: he's taught me how not to TikTok.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, cross.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, wait. What's the first? Not so bad.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, FORMER NBA PLAYER: He told me to eat better. She wants me to be the sexiest dad alive. And as you can see, it's working.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of flashback on Twitter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently, it's totally fine to sleep until 2:30 in the afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really am learning from the master.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She taught us her slang.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's taught (INAUDIBLE) why you bitter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Netflix and chill? And that's on, period.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Period.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I've learned from Sydney --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe patience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You learn about who you are from your children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I've learned from Lully is unconditional love.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is to be me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sweet, understanding, humble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can come together in powerful, unique, surprising ways.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably maturity, where you think, as a mother, it's your job to teach her children that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impossible is nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to live up to being her mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Class of 2020 taught me --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Perseverance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resilience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Positivity, passion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How to show grace to real disappointment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're smiling, and they're moving through everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And will just make your college graduation even more special.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life is really not that short.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there's no such thing as too much education.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MORGAN STRIKER: Hi, my name is Morgan Striker (PH).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm (INAUDIBLE) and I'm a graduate at the L.A. County High School for the Arts. Shout out to all my senior dancers.
STRIKER: Hopeful Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so honored to be introducing one of my favorite artists.
STRIKER: Performing next is her.
IRVIN: Here in Akron, many kids had it tough. They say we won't make it, but with LeBron having our backs, we've proven them wrong, and not just for ourselves, but for the kids who look out to us, including my little brother, and all the students (INAUDIBLE) school. Like autographs of Class of 2020. Our journey just beginning. Here was someone to help us on our way. Just know the kid from Akron, LeBron James.
LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Thank you, Irvin. Good evening. Tonight, we're celebrating the Class of 2020. Every family in America experiencing the critical role our schools and charities play in our lives, and what happens when they shut down.
In our poorest neighborhoods, schools are about much more than learning. In places like Akron, Ohio, schools are the most essential service. They may be the only place that supports you. The only place to protect you. And for many, the only place to feed you. Our schools are our safety net. Our people build our communities.
To the Class of 2020, as you celebrate tonight, do not forget your safety net. Every teacher, every coach, every pastor, they, along with your friends and family, got you to this moment. And now, it is time to go to a new place. It is time to chase every dream. Accept every challenge. Strive for greatness. Honor every promise and recommit to your community.
I know. That's the last thing you want to think about right now in place you've been sitting in for the last two months. Really, I mean, the last 18 years for you guys, but it's the truth. The community needs you. And when I say the community, I mean, your rec league, your church, your youth group, and most of all, your school. They need you.
Most importantly, building your community is how you change the world. Unfortunately, the system does not solve the real problem, education, violence, racism, they must be solved in the street. Class 2020, I know the last thing you want to hear right now is stay home. It's not my message to you. My message is stay close to home. Maybe not physically, but in every other way possible.
Pursue every ambition, go as far as you possibly can dream, and be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility or responsibility to rebuild your community. Class of 2020, the world has changed. You will determine how we rebuild. And I ask that you make your community your priority. Congratulations, Class of 2020, I love all of you. And remember one thing, you're all kings and queens.
EMILY YANG: Hi, my name is Emily Yang.
JORDAN RYAN: Hi, I'm Jordan Ryan, a graduate from Early College High School in Killeen, Texas.
YANG: I'm currently a senior at Oakland High School in Oakland, California. Shout out to my Wildcats.
RYAN: Next, we have a talented artist performing a track he made for us tonight to celebrate the Class of 2020. Here's Cordae.
YANG: Here's Cordae.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My place is on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn it off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi there, future politicians, musicians, and activists and more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to lie, what you're going through right now is far from easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are seriously amazing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your creativity is inspiring.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so impressed by you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't be together, apparently no problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're still laughing together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crying together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And dancing together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having fun at getting your education is a balancing act. And then, to do something in the middle of a world pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you go to prom with me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I found a new way to celebrate milestones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be embarrassed by your parents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And also to embarrass your parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see the world without even ever leaving your house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've learned to let your guard down and not care what people think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And to admit that things are a little crazy right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only a realist here; this sucks. I can't even --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Gemini and I just don't like --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't. I'm hungry. And you know what doesn't -- you -- I am so proud of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This moment has tied this graduating class together forever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there is nothing that could ever break that bond.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You go, Class of 2020, keep striving and thriving, we love you. Bye, guys, we're proud of you. See?
PHARRELL WILLIAMS, SINGER/RAPPER: A great speech like a great song comes from the heart. It's only when the words flow from authentic emotions that it can actually really resonate with the many versus the few. This video you're about to see does exactly that. It was written and produced by graduating seniors in Arizona's high schools to provide words of inspiration to their classmates. What they created has grown, and they are now joined by other seniors from across the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Class 2020.
SHELBY RASH, SKYLINE HIGH SCHOOL: We knew this year wouldn't be easy, but I don't think any of us could have prepared for this. Our last moments of high school have come to an unfortunate end.
JORDAN LEWIS, WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL: We are all confused. We are all worried. And without even realizing it, many of us have already spent our last moments on our high school campus.
HALAH BERGLIN, WILLIAMS FIELD HIGH SCHOOL: But by sticking together, I know that we will not only get through times like this with confidence and pride, but do so in a way that is unforgettable.
KAYLA DIAZ, FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL: We don't give up at the first sign of defeat. We sure don't take no for an answer. And we don't let our hardships break us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Class of 2020.
JOHNNY CORTE, SAGUARO HIGH SCHOOL: It's a crazy thing to go down in history. I have that the Class of 2020 will have done it either way.
MASON WHITAKER, IRONWOOD RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL: The virus canceled the rest of our senior year, but that does not define us. We are who we are not because of what happens to us, but because of how we respond.
PARKER FOWLER, GREENWAY HIGH SCHOOL: Because we are the Class of 2020; we don't hide in the face of adversity; we don't back down from our struggles. And we keep our head high no matter how hard it may seem. MORGANN KELLY, DESERT VISTA HIGH SCHOOL: Do not forget about the
experiences that have brought us to this moment. But hold on to them, the hardships, the memories, the laughs, it's what's going to propel us into the unsure future.
LAUREN GRIMM, THUNDERBIRD HIGH SCHOOL: We don't know what the future holds. We know that whatever it is, we'll do together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love you.
CALEB FEARING, MOJAVE HIGH SCHOOL: This message is not just ours. Students across America have joined our voice. So, let's keep this going. Wherever you are, join us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Join us.
CHRISTIAN JOHNSON, RON BROWN COLLEGE PREPARATORY HIGH SCHOOL: We are so proud of all of our fellow seniors, and we are forever bonded as the Class of 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us.
ALL: Join us. Join us. Join us. Join us.
ANAYA FISHER, KENWOOD ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL: Hi, my name is Anaya Fisher, and I'm a senior at Kenwood Academy High School on the south side of Chicago. Before this crisis begin, I had the opportunity to intern with the Obama Foundation as a part of the Youth Job Corps Program.
This experience helped prepare me to study at the University of Michigan next fall on a Gate scholarship. Today, I'm going to introduce someone who knows just how far our journey that begins on the south side can take you. Here to address the graduating Class of 2020, please welcome President Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi, everybody. And I thank you for that beautiful introduction. I could not be prouder of everything you've done in your time with the Obama Foundation. And of course, I couldn't be prouder of all of you in the graduating Class of 2020, as well as the teachers and the coaches, and most of all, parents and family, who guided you along the way.
Now, graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances. Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way. Whether it was an illness, or a parent losing a job, or living in a neighborhood where people too often count you out. Along with the usual challenges of growing up, all of you have had to deal with the added pressures of social media, reports of school shootings, and the specter of climate change.
And then, just as you're about to celebrate having made it through, just as you've been looking forward to proms and senior nights, graduation ceremonies, and let's face it, a whole bunch of parties, the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic. And as much as I'm sure you love your parents, I bet the being stuck at home with them, and playing board games or watching Tiger King on T.V. is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year.
Now, I'll be honest with you, the disappointments of missing a live graduation, those will pass pretty quick. I don't remember much of my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and listen to a commencement speaker isn't all that bad. Mine usually go on way too long. Also, not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me. And you'll have plenty of time to catch up with your friends once the immediate public health crisis is over.
But what remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood. The time when you begin to take charge of your own life. It's when you get to decide what's important to you. The kind of career you want to pursue, who you want to build a family with; the values you want to live by.
And given the current state of the world that may be kind of scary. If you planned on going for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall, that's no longer a given. If you are planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher. Even families that are relatively well-off are dealing with massive uncertainty. Those who are struggling before, they're hanging on by a thread.
All of which means that you're going to have to grow up faster than some generations. This pandemic is shaking up the status quo, and laid bare a lot of our country's deep-seated problems, for massive economic inequality, to ongoing racial disparities, to a lack of basic health care for people who need it.
It's woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don't work. That it doesn't matter how much money you make, if everyone around you is hungry and sick, and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves but about each other.
It's also pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end. In all those adults, they used to think or in charge and knew what they were doing. Turns out, they don't have all the answers. A lot of them aren't even asking the right questions. So, if the world is going to get better, it's going to be up to you.
That realization may be kind of intimidating, but I hope it's also inspiring. With all the challenges this country faces right now, nobody can tell you, no, you're too young to understand, or this is how it's always been done. Because with so much uncertainty, with everything, suddenly up for grabs, this is your generation's world to shape.
Since I'm one of the old guys, I won't tell you what to do with this power that rests in your hands. But I'll leave you with three quick pieces of advice. First, don't be afraid. America has gone through tough times before: slavery, Civil War, famine, disease, the Great Depression, and 9/11. And each time, we came out stronger, usually because a new generation, young people like you learn from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better.
Second, do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up.
I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last. Like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others. You won't get it right every time. You'll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth that's inside yourself, even when it's hard, even when it's inconvenient, people will notice they'll gravitate towards you. And you'll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it's easy to be cynical and say, let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think, or pray like me.
But if we're going to get through these difficult times, if we're going to create a world where everybody has opportunity to find a job and afford college, if we're going to save the environment, and defeat future pandemics, then we're going to have to do it together.
So, be alive to one another's struggles. Stand up for one another's rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us: sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed, and set the world on a different path.
When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of our foundation, to give young people like you the skills and support to lead in your own communities, and to connect you with other young leaders around the country and around the globe.
But the truth is, you don't need us to tell you what to do, because in so many ways, you've already started to lead. Congratulations, Class of 2020. Keep making us proud.
JAMES: Thank you to U.S. President Obama, and to all the educators, community leaders, talented artists, family members, and especially to the students who came together to create this tribute to the Class of 2020.
Happy graduation. Wow, you guys did it. Good night.
KEVIN JONAS, MEMBER, JONAS BROTHERS: Hey, Class of 2020, where the Jonas Brothers.
NICK JONAS, MEMBER, JONAS BROTHERS: All of you have accomplished so much so far. We wish you all the best in everything that's ahead of you.
JOE JONAS, MEMBER, JONAS BROTHERS: Congratulations to all the seniors and now let's party.
JAMES: You know, I'm rusty on the world right now. I've been now -- I've been also long -- I don't even know what to do right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last one, last one, OK, I know I'll be done, I swear to God. This is the part of the footage that leaks on YouTube like three years later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was recording?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just don't use anything that I got -- I got emotional, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congrats Class of 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you later.