Gov. Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Friday that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, actor Josh Duhamel and Nashville recording artists Tigirlily will participate in a May 30 statewide celebration of North Dakota’s high school Class of 2020.
Wentz, a native of Bismarck and graduate of North Dakota State University, will give the commencement address during the hour-long ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m. Central time on Saturday, May 30.
Duhamel, a native of Minot and graduate of Minot State University, and Tigirlily will deliver congratulatory messages, and Tigirlily will give a musical performance to close the event. Hazen natives and sisters Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh are the performing duo Tigirlily.
Five North Dakota students will participate in the ceremony. Kourtney Bitz, a senior at Napoleon High School, will provide the student address on behalf of the Class of 2020. Bitz is a member of Baesler’s Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, which is a group of elementary, middle, and high school students who provide advice to the superintendent about how to improve North Dakota education.
A collage of class and school photographs from North Dakota’s high schools will be shown during the program. Almost all of the state’s 181 high schools have contributed images for the collage.
The ceremony will be broadcast on North Dakota’s ABC television affiliates and streamed on the websites of Forum Communications Co.’s North Dakota newspaper properties: The Forum, The Jamestown Sun, The Dickinson Press, and the Grand Forks Herald.
“We want to thank Carson Wentz, Josh Duhamel, and Tigirlily for agreeing to be part of this celebration, and we would also like to thank our media partners for carrying this statewide,” Gov. Burgum and Superintendent Baesler said in a joint statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many events that are dear to our seniors, including graduation ceremonies, prom, and athletic events. They have not been able to be with their classmates during their last days of high school,” Burgum and Baesler said. “We hope that this celebration will provide some memories for our seniors, their families, their friends, and their loved ones.”
Baesler said the celebration is not intended as a replacement for local high school graduations that are being held across the state.
“This is another opportunity to celebrate our graduates,” the superintendent said.