CHICAGO - Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced the first-ever virtual citywide high school commencement celebration for Chicago seniors – hosted by the longtime Chicagoan and icon herself, Oprah Winfrey.
The mayor made the announcement while dancing in a video on the social media platform TikTok.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The mayor says Chicago’s graduating high school class of 2020 deseves recognition for their hard work over the past four years.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every Chicagoan over the last few months, from lives lost to livelihoods severely impacted to planned experiences that had to be cancelled and that cannot be replaced,” Lightfoot said in a statement. "While we can't recreate these in-person memories, I feel strongly that we need to recognize and celebrate the achievements of our many high school seniors in Chicago.”
The virtual ceremony will include speeches, performances and more.
"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," CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson said in a statement. "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."
The exact date of the event will be announced in the coming weeks, but the ceremony will take place mid-June.
“We’re coming together to celebrate the class of 2020 and all those who have supported these students in this accomplishment,” Ken Griffin, Founder and CEO of Citadel, said in a statement. “It is an honor to have Oprah Winfrey join in this celebration – her words of hope and inspiration to our graduates are a tremendous gift in this moment. To the graduating seniors: as you close this chapter and begin the next, Chicago is with you and we are proud of you.”
Also on Thursday, Illinois health officials announced 2,563 new cases of the coronavirus, raising the state’s case total to 52,918.