Although the coronavirus pandemic effectively dashed the dreams of walking across the stage for graduates nationwide this year, Prince George’s County high school seniors will at least receive a special virtual gift for their commencement.
Award-winning actor Taraji P. Henson, a 1988 graduate of Oxon Hill High School, will serve as commencement speaker during a May 30 virtual ceremony for the county’s graduating seniors. The special event will air 7 p.m. May 30 on WJLA-TV and again the following day at noon.
Henson is one of several prominent Prince George’s County Public Schools alumni scheduled to participate, including singer-songwriter Kenny Lattimore, radio personality Joe Clair and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden.
During the telecast, the names of all 8,000 seniors from the county’s 31 high schools will be shown on the screen. The program will come 15 days after the seniors’ last day of school on May 15.
“I wanted a celebration that would feature other graduates who understand what it means to be Prince George’s County public school proud,” said schools CEO Monica Goldson, who announced the event Friday during a press conference in Landover. “I know that there is nothing that can replace walking across the stage. I hope that the students feel our love and pride for all that they have accomplished because I truly believe they are the unstoppable Class of 2020.”
Most of the county’s high school graduation ceremonies usually are held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro or the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, but such large gatherings are currently prohibited by the state’s stay-at-home order amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.