High school seniors graduating in 2020 and excited for their moment on stage got their dreams dashed when the coronavirus crisis forced schools to delay, cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies. In Jacksonville, Bob Ellis, the general manager of Graham Media’s independent WJXT, said he felt compelled to do something to help “fill the emptiness so many people felt at having to stay home and have those graduations cancelled. It seemed a natural to go and figure out how to make it happen.”
High school seniors graduating in 2020 and excited for their moment on stage got their dreams dashed when the coronavirus crisis forced schools, which had already canceled classes for the year, to delay, cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies.
The traditional ritual of students in caps and gowns sitting shoulder to shoulder in an auditorium as they’re called to the stage one by one to get their diplomas was yet another part of their senior year experience denied them.
But in Jacksonville, Fla. (DMa 41), the void felt by graduating students, their families, friends and school officials, is being filled somewhat by a local station that offered to work with the schools to broadcast the graduations.
Bob Ellis, the general manager of Graham Media’s independent WJXT (Ellis prefers the term “fully local” to independent), said he felt compelled to do something to help “fill the emptiness so many people felt at having to stay home and have those graduations cancelled. It seemed a natural to go and figure out how to make it happen.”
So starting this past Saturday, May 16, and continuing every Saturday until at least June 13, WJXT will air the graduation ceremonies of 42 Jacksonville high schools honoring some 7,000 students.
Ellis found some local ad partners to underwrite the promotion and the broadcasts themselves, like the title sponsor, Community First Credit Union.
Josh Beauchamp, WJXT’s programming executive producer, coordinated the production with the schools.
“Some schools got more creative than others,” Beauchamp said.
Ellis said “no school graduation looked the same, because no school did it the same, because no two schools are the same. This is good for the viewer and the community, good for the advertiser and local businesses and good for the TV station. These kids are worth celebrating; they’re incredibly impressive.”
Click here to go to WJXT’s Brightest and Best website page where you can see all the high school graduation videos that have aired so far.
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