Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most traditional graduation ceremonies for the graduating class of 2020 have been canceled.
However, YouTube has found a way to commemorate all graduating seniors. On Sunday, YouTube hosted a virtual live stream, “Dear Class of 2020.” It has since gotten 7 million views.
The live stream included performances by Katy Perry, BTS, Lizzo, Alicia Keys, Shawn Mendes and more. It also included special appearances by The Try Guys and Dude Perfect.
According to a poll by Billboard, BTS’ performance ranked first as viewer’s favorite performance, gathering 67% of votes. Mariah Cary and “Schitt’s Creek” cast ranked second, rallying 10% of viewer’s votes. Chloe x Halle ranked third, with their song “Do It,” gathering 7% of viewer’s votes.
In addition to performances, speakers such as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama gave inspiring words of encouragement and highlighted the graduating class’s achievements.
Graduating senior Kenneth Christian Francisco said that Beyoncé’s speech was encouraging amidst these difficult times.
“I’m not even going to quote one piece from her speech. It’s her entire speech,” Francisco said. “The advice that she gives was truly inspiring, it gave me hope for my future and it truly helped me become self-aware of the choices that I’m going to make.”
Lady Gaga took the time to address the current world events in her speech.
“All of us are being invited to challenge that system and think about how to affect real change. I believe in my heart that people who are going to make this change happen are listening to me speak right now,” Lady Gaga said in the stream. “I know this is true because it’s you who are the seeds of the future. You are the seeds that will grow into a new and different forest that is far more beautiful and loving than the one we live in today.”
Former president Barack Obama praised graduates on their ability to persevere and urged them to celebrate.
“And we want you to know that all the work you’ve put in to get your education is still one of the best investments you can make. We’ve seen it for decades,” he said in the stream. “The more education you have, the better you and your families are likely to fair. So you all have done something great. Hold your heads high and celebrate.”