Chicago to host 1st-ever citywide virtual high school graduation in June

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago high school graduates might be missing out on a traditional commencement this spring, but they'll be getting a send-off that no other seniors in the city have received before.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday the virtual graduation for Chicago's high school seniors will take place at 1 p.m. June 14. The city's "Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago." is produced in partnership with ABC 7 Chicago and ABC's Localish digital network.

It will celebrate every high school senior in Chicago, including those from Chicago Public Schools, charter schools, Catholic schools and all other private schools across the city.

To ensure all high school seniors and those who have supported them along the way have a chance to celebrate this milestone from wherever they are, the virtual graduation ceremony will be broadcast on major local TV and radio newscasts, including: ABC7, WGN-TV, WTTW, FOX32, Univision Chicago (WGBO-TV), and streaming live on the ABC Localish Network in 14 million homes across the country. WBEZ will air portions of the graduation celebration on 91.5 and stream it live on WBEZ.org. CBS2 will be running a delayed broadcast later that evening. Additionally, the city of Chicago will be providing a live-stream feed from its website and its social media channels. The ceremony will be provided in live closed captioning as well as in Spanish on Univision Chicago (WGBO-TV).

Lightfoot is also encouraging all graduating seniors from across Chicago to participate in next month's graduation ceremony by submitting a "Grad Walk" video of their own graduation walk for a chance to appear in the virtual celebration. All high school seniors can submit their graduation walk videos at chicagograd2020.com.

Lightfoot took to TikTok to announce that Chicago will hold its first-ever virtual graduation in mid-June. Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement address.

"We are thrilled and honored to have the one-and-only Oprah Winfrey joining us for this incredible moment with Chicago's high school seniors," Lightfoot said. "The times we are living in are historic and stunning, forcing us all to take a deep look at who we are as a people and our place in the world. No one knows this better than Oprah, and I join all of Chicago in looking forward to hearing the wisdom she'll be sharing with our incredible young people as they take this unforgettable next step on their life's journey."

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CPS CEO Janice K. Jackson said city officials want to honor Chicago students.

"The meaning of graduation is more profound than a physical stage and nothing can detract from the beaming pride of a Chicago Public Schools parent when their student earns a diploma," Jackson said. "We know we can't fully replace the special milestones lost during this unprecedented crisis, but our seniors deserve to be celebrated for their hard work and we look forward to coming together to honor our seniors during this special occasion."

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The city is hosting the event in partnership with Citadel, the mayor's office said.
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