To support the class of 2020, YouTube live-streamed a virtual graduation ceremony called ‘Dear Class of 2020’ on Sunday, June 7. The event lasted for over four hours and set a new record by becoming the most-viewed YouTube originals live event to date, peaking at 665,000 concurrent viewers.1 A star-studded lineup may have contributed to the high viewership.
YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 lineup included world famous superstars like Beyoncé, BTS, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, and Maluma as well as respected world figures including President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and activist Malala Yousafzai. The virtual event also featured some popular YouTube personalities including Liza Koshy, Emma Chamberlain, John Green, The Try Guys, Jackie Aina, and NikkieTutorials – just to name a few.
These celebrities left congratulatory messages, gave inspiring speeches, and put on memorable performances. The overall theme was one of taking on unprecedented challenges, embracing inclusion, applauding activism, and maintaining hope. In partnership with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher and Google.org non-profit organizations, the event raised almost $2 million from corporate donors.1
While the four-hour event had its fair share of iconic moments, there are some segments that stuck out. If you missed the live stream event, here some of the best Dear Class of 2020 highlights you should definitely check out.
Introduction by Lizzo and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Mostly known as an incredible singer, songwriter, and rapper, Lizzo is also a classically trained flute player, also called a flautist. She put her flute playing skills to good use when performing a rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. All performers filmed themselves playing separately and the clips were edited into a hypnotizing montage to start off the virtual graduation ceremony.
Barack and Michelle Obama Pop In
President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama served as the unofficial hosts of the virtual graduation ceremony, popping in multiple times throughout the event to offer advice and inspiring speeches. They gave individual messages of encouragement as well as a charming snippet together.
Beyoncé’s Powerful 9-Minute Speech
Worldwide superstar Beyoncé also decided to participate in this special event. While she didn’t perform any of her mega-popular hits, she did sit down to give a moving nine-minute speech congratulating graduates, She expressed her thanks for the activism of today’s graduates as well as stressed the importance of graduates investing in themselves.
“You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers.” – Beyoncé 2
Chloe X Halle Debut a New Song
Artists from Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment company gave a stand-out performance for Dear Class of 2020. The Grammy-nominated R&B duo, made up of sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey, sang their new song “Do It.” Dressed in bejeweled white get-ups, their smooth voices and the catchy beat were addictive. You may want to replay their performance video a few times!
Katy Perry Reminds Graduates Which Side the Tassel Goes
They heavily pregnant global pop star Katy Perry presided over the moment when graduates moved their tassels, making their graduation “official.” The songstress reminded graduates which side the tassel goes on before starting a countdown. On the count of one, video clips of graduates from around the world were shown as they moved their graduation tassels from right to left. Perry then performed her songs “Daises” and “Firework” against a variety of colorful backdrops.
BTS Speeches and Performance
K-pop sensation BTS also appeared in the event multiple times. They were a huge draw to the event and may have been one of the most popular celebrity appearances if the comment section of the full replay video on YouTube is anything to go by. The boy group first appeared to give a touching commencement, with each member giving their own encouraging messages. They then closed the event by performing some of their hit songs.
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- Todd Spangler, Variety – YouTube Says ‘Dear Class of 2020’ Special With Obamas, BTS, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga & More Breaks Viewing Record
- Alyssa Bailey & Hilary Weaver, Elle – Beyoncé To Class Of 2020 Grads: 'Keep Your Eye On Your Intention'