Even though COVID-19 shutdowns are affecting every facet of life, one of the more significant aspects is the amount of development and social time that the young people of our country are losing out on by being stuck at home, far removed from schools, friends, parties, sports and other connective events. For the class of 2020, the time is especially more trying. As students head towards graduation with dreams of parties, diploma handoffs and grandiose processions, they could never have imagined graduating without any pomp and flair. The once-in-a-century pandemic has upended life in all corners of society, including commencement ceremonies at colleges nearly everywhere.

They are commencing at a time of great uncertainty, but even in the midst of chaos, such a tremendous achievement is worth pausing to celebrate. Since students, the world over, are going to miss their moment under the limelight to have an in-person graduation ceremony, Facebook has decided to step up and host its own version.

The social media giant announced that it will stream a live graduation event on May 15th, Starting at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern, over Facebook, kicking off with a commencement speech from Oprah Winfrey, followed by smaller speeches by Simone Biles, Lil Nas X, Jennifer Garner and Awkwafina. And, in case there was still a dry eye in the house once Oprah leaves the stage, Miley Cyrus is also scheduled to give a special performance of her iconic inspirational hit “The Climb.”

Although the main show will be broadcast over Facebook, you can watch select clips at @instagram on Instagram as well. Not to mention, four days prior to the ceremony, Instagram will start showing daily videos that encapsulate iconic senior experiences such as the senior skip day, portrait showcases and ‘most likely’ votes.

According to Facebook, the ceremony is not only limited to ivy league colleges, but will acknowledge all US based colleges and high schools by name, state by state photos, accompanied by video messages from their respective principals and deans and names and of the class of 2020. The video will be broadcasted on Facebook Watch, while highlights of the events will be featured on Instagram.

But what about graduation parties? In addition to the main event, graduates will be able to host their own virtual graduation ceremonies and parties via Facebook through a host of special features, such as custom filters, a virtual graduation hub, and being able to celebrate with friends and family by messenger rooms. Apart from Facebook, Instagram is also launching a whole lot of creative features to add to the festivities, including a custom hashtag page for #Graduation2020, new AR effects, and a graduation countdown sticker. In addition to enabling graduates to celebrate their graduation in style, these features will also test the new Messenger Rooms function of facebook.

Facebook and Instagram Stories will also launch a graduation theme including a list of grad-related songs which will facilitate graduates find the perfect soundtrack to go with the graduation moments they will share to their stories.

Other sites are holding similar events. On May 15th, Her Campus will host I’m Still Graduating, featuring appearances by Tamron Hall, Andrew Yang, Jesse McCartney, Liam Payne, Brooke Baldwin, Margaret Cho, Radhika Jones, and Eva Longoria. Not to mention, a lot of schools are also planning their own, less star-studded events to celebrate graduations remotely. For instance, Virginia Tech’s online commencement for the Class of 2020 will feature inspirational messages from notable Hokies, including world-renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni, legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster, and Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier. Participants can enjoy the ceremony with family and friends, while sharing photos and comments with one another using an online platform.

Even though nothing can replace the actual joy and thrill of the physical event, social platforms are going out of their way to provide alternative options for such amid the lockdowns, in a bid to keep younger audiences connected. Just last week, TikTok ran a virtual prom event, a star-studded event with musical guests, to help liven up the celebration.  Even though it is a difficult time for millions in social isolation, technology is helping to ease this burden just a little bit. At a time when distance becomes palpable, social media giants are striving to provide some level of normalcy in the current situation, and get younger people sharing their experiences. This year’s graduation will be different than other years, but isn’t different good?

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

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