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Oscar-Winner Tom Hanks Gives Heartfelt Video Message To Oakland's Skyline High Class Of 2020

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Members of the graduating Class of 2020 at Skyline High School on Friday had a surprise message from a special guest speaker during the school's online commencement: Oscar-winning actor and world famous Skyline alumnus Tom Hanks.


The online commencement exercise forced by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was the first such ceremony of the year for the Oakland Unified School District. Like all ceremonies being held this year in the district, the virtual graduation was being watched by students, faculty administrators and families on their computers.

A press release by the district noted that it was possibly "because of the extraordinary circumstances of the shelter in place and all that the Class of 2020 has had to endure this year" that the school was able to arrange the video message from Skyline's most recognizable graduate.

Hanks opened the video message greeting the Class of 2020 by introducing himself as a graduate from the Class of 1974 and initially gesturing to the room in his home behind him and jokingly welcoming them to George C. Bliss Field.

"Alright, this is not George C. Bliss Field, as you know. You are not there at the grounds of Skyline High School. You're not near your locker in the 20 Building or the 30 Building. You're not taking Electronics over in the 10 Building," he said, acknowledging the strangeness of this year's commencement.

"Somewhere out of the fate of every high schooler, you were picked to graduate this year, in the year 2020. To start off in this next chapter of your lives in the face and in the midst of so much change. Good luck to you," said Hanks. "Congratulations at having gotten through these years of struggle which will, I think, lead ultimately to the triumph as you pursue your heart's desire. Follow those instincts and always understand that you have been chosen by fate to lead the way into whatever our post-pandemic world is going to be. Make it a great one, would you? We're all relying on you."

He continued, giving shout outs to senior class officers as well as the school's co-principals before some final words of encouragement to the graduates.

"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, with hard work and with no small amount of faith in the serandipity that is coming your way" Hanks said.

Hanks has his own personal coronavirus story. Back in March, the actor announced on Twitter that he and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for coronavirus after spending time in Australia.

KPIX 5 would like to extend the station's congratulations to the graduating class at Skyline.


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