School closures extending to the end of the academic year due to novel coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions mean graduating seniors must forego traditional events in large assemblies and ceremonies in crowded auditoriums with fellow classmates. That does not mean, however, that students’ accomplishments will not be honored or their achievements go unrecognized.
Governor Gina Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Education, and Rhode Island PBS, in association with Coast 93.3, are partnering to present a statewide graduation celebration to honor some 9,000 Rhode Island high school seniors. Your Year 2020will be televisedon WSBE Rhode Island PBS Monday, June 15 at 7 p.m. The star-studded show will also feature local and national celebrities - but none more important than our high school seniors themselves.
Viola Davis, winner of an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards, will deliver the keynote address. Billy Gilman, two-time Grammy Award nominee and runner-up on The Voice, will perform his single, “Soldier.” Erika Van Pelt, a top-10 contestant on American Idol, will sing the National Anthem.
As of press time, other celebrities who will offer greetings and best wishes are veteran broadcast journalist and television personality Meredith Vieira, Olympic swimming medalist Elizabeth Beisel, Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2020 Sofia Ledoux, and New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. Speakers include the Governor, Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, RI House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, and RI Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.
Graduating seniors are invited to be part of the broadcast by submitting short one-minute videos of favorite memories from senior year, including sporting events and extracurricular activities. Videos may also capture how students have been coping with COVID-19 quarantine at home. Students are invited to be creative and have fun with this assignment.
In addition, seniors are invited to enter a singing competition by recording themselves singing a favorite song. The recording must be appropriate for broadcast and under four minutes long. The videos will be judged and the top three performances included in the broadcast.
All videos should be submitted to Rhode Island PBS through links at ripbs.org/youryear2020. Parental consent is required for participating students under 18 years of age. Details are on the website.
An encore of Your Year 2020 will air on Coast 93.3 the following Sunday, June 21, as well as on the iHeart App as podcasts.
Your Year 2020 is presented in partnership with the Office of Governor Gina Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Education, and in association with media partner Coast 93.3 WSNE-FM. For information and to submit videos by May 22, visit ripbs.org/youryear2020.
WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air in high definition on digital 36.1; Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD in MA; DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36.