Chicago sets a date and recruits more stars for its citywide virtual graduation

“Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes will emcee Chicago’s virtual graduation
“Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes, right, will emcee Chicago’s virtual commencement for the Class of 2020 on June 14. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Graduating seniors throughout Chicago will be honored by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first virtual graduation ceremony on June 14 at 1 p.m. 

“The times we are living in are truly unprecedented and now, more than ever, our future rests on the talent, ideas, and ambition of our next generation of leaders,” Lightfoot said in a release on Wednesday afternoon. “While Chicago’s 2020 graduating class cannot walk across their school’s stage to get their diplomas, we are asking them to don their caps and gowns on June 14 as the entire city celebrates this unforgettable milestone together.” 

Oprah Winfrey, media executive and former talk show host, will give the commencement address. Miguel Cervantes, an actor from the musical “Hamilton,” will emcee the event. Katie Kadan, a winner of the musical competition “The Voice,” will perform the national anthem. 

The ceremony will feature a comedy skit from Second City, an improvisational theater troupe based in Chicago, and surprise graduate shout-outs from the city’s celebrities and sports figures.

“Our graduating seniors have displayed incredible persistence over the past few months and deserve this one-of-a-kind celebration to honor their accomplishments,” wrote Janice Jackson, Chicago Public Schools chief. “Though many of them have postsecondary plans that will take them all over the country and the world, this virtual graduation truly exemplifies how special it is to grow up in Chicago and graduate from Chicago Public Schools.” 

Students also will perform. Representatives from various parts of the city will write and deliver a joint valedictorian speech. The ceremony also will feature the  Dunbar Vocational Career Academy’s drumline, a Class of 2020 poem from ChiArts students, and a spoken word performance by Kenwood High School students. 

The mayor’s office is encouraging seniors to submit a video of their own graduation walk for a chance to appear in the virtual celebration. Seniors may submit their graduation walk videos at: www.chicagograd2020.com.

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