Arizonans Give Virtual Graduation Speeches

Posted By on May 13, 2020

Thousands of Arizona graduates are missing their walk across the stage, the diploma hand off, the launch of their mortarboard, and the friends and family celebrations that follow the ceremonies due to COVID-19.

Yet to make sure not all was lost, one Arizona resident reached out to a variety of people to write and record their own inspiring messages to make certain the graduates feel seen and celebrated as they mark the important moment in their lives.

More than 40 individuals answered the call. The Virtual Graduation Project: Speeches to Inspire Arizona’s Future Leaders includes messages for eighth graders, high school graduates, and college and university students moving on to the next chapters in their lives.

“The community has rallied through these difficult times. So many Arizonans have stepped up to support their neighbors, families and front-line workers. It shouldn’t be any different for our amazing graduates,” said Rhonda Bannard, creator of the Virtual Graduation Project and a proud graduate of Arizona public schools and a state university. “I have fond memories of my graduations here in Phoenix and Tucson so I thought it would be a nice gift to offer up great stories, wisdom and inspiration from fellow Arizonans to our 2020 graduates.”

The speeches are delivered by individuals or an ensemble, and are diverse in their themes – building on accomplishments, navigating personal journeys, pivoting when facing a challenge, service to community, facing uncertainty, redefining oneself, and resiliency.

These messages are combined with wisdom from 2020 grads, moms, dads, historians, principals, and the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman.

The messages can be found at

The Arizona Department of Education has already been sharing the graduation messages for use by teachers, as well as principals and superintendents who can choose a few messages to share with their communities through their own communication channels.

A sampling of presenters includes:

  • Arizona Youth Climate Coalition
  • Karina Bland, mother and journalist
  • Barry Chasse, Arizona business owner, dad of 2020 graduate
  • Rabbi Mari Chernow, Temple Chai
  • Dr. Lupita Hightower, Tolleson Elementary Superintendent
  • Kristi Lee & Jade Quinn, mom and daughter
  • Corey Woods, Mayor-elect, city of Tempe

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