The Class of 2020 is being honored with cheers around Philadelphia and a Super Bowl-winning keynote speaker Tuesday.
The School District of Philadelphia's virtual commencement ceremony for about 13,000 graduates from its district, alternative education and charter school featured former Philadelphia Eagles star and criminal justice reform advocate Malcolm Jenkins.
"Starting from an early age, youth must see it to believe they can be it. This is especially critical for youth of color,” Jenkins said.
Gwendolyn V. Jenkins, CEO and president of The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation (TMJF), later announced the launch of Power Pathway Academy. PPA is a "digital career readiness program designed to engage young people ages 13-24 on their mobile devices with culturally relevant micro-learning experiences," the district said in a news release.
Besides Jenkins’ keynote address, the ceremony also featured student performances, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and school Superintendent William Hite.
Even people who couldn’t “attend” the ceremony could still show support to the Class of 2020 after their school careers came to an end at a distance due to the coronavirus pandemic by stepping outside their homes or workplaces at 1 p.m. to make noise and cheer for the grads.
For the “20 for 20” event, “people can shout ‘Congratulations, Class of 2020,’ clap, whistle, honk a horn or even do the unique Philadelphia custom of banging a pot or pan,” the district said in a news release.
Jenkins was chosen not for his undoubted ability on the gridiron but for his “compassion and advocacy around social justice,” Donna Frisby-Greenwood, the co-chair of the district’s graduation committee and president and CEO of the nonprofit Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, said last month.
“He’s a class-act with a great deal of love for our youth and our city,” Frisby-Greenwood said, adding that Jenkins has a few “surprises” in store for students during the ceremony.
The district distributed caps and gowns. The ceremony will be followed by a virtual after party at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Congratulations to all the graduates.