OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Graduations are taking on very different forms this year and on Friday, Skyline High School in Oakland held a Zoom ceremony for graduating seniors.
Organizers pulled out all the stops even reaching out to some famous alumni to join in, like the class of 1974’s famous alumni, Tom Hanks.
The actor cracked a few jokes and sent his good luck and congratulations to the class of 2020.
He even got personal, talking about his locker, the different buildings he remembers visiting and even gave shout outs to the class officers.
The school district says they originally thought the actor would only send a letter to be read to students, but the three and a half minute video message was the perfect gift for seniors.
“He sees the class of 2020,” said communications director John Sasaki. “He doesn’t just see Oakland or Skyline, but he sees what all of our kids are going through. He knows what a difficult time for so many people it’s been and he wanted to help out. It’s just a great message.”
As the video aired during the Zoom ceremony, dozens of students wrote messages to Hanks from their homes. Many calling him Woody from Toy Story and quoting the movie’s theme song “You’ve got a Friend in Me”.
Hanks didn’t mention his own personal battle with COVID-19 – he and his wife Rita Wilson were among the first celebrities to be diagnosed with the virus back in March.
He instead chose to spend time focusing on the struggles the class of 2020 students have had to deal with and encouraged them to keep pushing.
In part he said, “Somewhere out of the fate of every high schooler, you were picked to graduate in the year 2020. You have achieved something that is not to be discounted. You made it. You did not give up. You have been the best example for the rest of us to keep going with faith and hope, hard work and no small amount of faith in the serendipity that is coming to you. You have been chosen by fate to lead the way in whatever way our post pandemic world is going to be. Make it a great one, will you?”
Hanks wasn’t the only celebrity to show up for the class of 2020.
Oakland native and actress Zendaya sent a video as well.
Actor Delroy Lindo, Oakland rapper and screenwriter Boots Riley, Gary Payton, E-40, and Activist Angela Davis all also gave shout outs to the Skyline High graduates.
Watch Tom Hank’s full message below:
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