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Statewide celebration for graduates will be remembered

High school seniors graduating this spring are losing a lot. Many traditional moments that other graduates get to experience and look back on as they grow older are being stolen by COVID-19.

But, in North Dakota the Class of 2020 will have something special to remember their senior year by. One that will hopefully take some of the sting out of an otherwise scaled-back senior celebration.

Gov. Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Friday that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, actor Josh Duhamel and Nashville recording artists Tigirlily will participate in a May 30 statewide celebration of North Dakota’s high school Class of 2020.

Wentz, a native of Bismarck and graduate of North Dakota State University, will give the commencement address during the hour-long ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m. Central time on Saturday, May 30.

Duhamel, a native of Minot and graduate of Minot State University, and Tigirlily will deliver congratulatory messages, and Tigirlily will give a musical performance to close the event. Hazen natives and sisters Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh are the performing duo Tigirlily.

That kind of star power is special itself. But also, there will be some student participation and a collage of class and school photographs from North Dakota’s 181 graduating classes will be shown during the program.

The experience might unite the N.D. Class of 2020 making the graduates feel just a little bit special, unique…they were in this together.

The ceremony will be broadcast statewide on North Dakota’s ABC television affiliates and streamed on the websites of Forum Communications Co.’s North Dakota newspaper properties: The Forum, The Jamestown Sun, The Dickinson Press, and the Grand Forks Herald.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many events that are dear to our seniors, including graduation ceremonies, prom, and athletic events. They have not been able to be with their classmates during their last days of high school,” Burgum and Baesler said. “We hope that this celebration will provide some memories for our seniors, their families, their friends, and their loved ones.”

A nice sentiment and send-off indeed.

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