American Graduate Day | Champions | American Graduate (Main)
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Thanks for Watching American Graduate Day 2016!

Hosted by Soledad O'Brien on September 17, 2016, this live, four-hour national broadcast celebrated individuals and non-profit organizations dedicated to helping youth stay on track to high school graduation. 10 public television stations across the country contributed original content to the program.

Special guests included General and Mrs. Colin Powell, Shaquille O'Neal, Rachel Platten, Allison Williams, Elmo, Wynton Marsalis, Prince Royce, and many more.

Host Soledad O'Brien was joined by Juju Chang, Rehema Ellis, Susie Gharib and Hakeem Oluseyi. Throughout the day, American Graduate Day presented interviews with advocates like General and Mrs. Colin Powell, heartfelt testimonials from celebrities and luminaries, a live performance by one of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s student ensembles, and compelling Stories of Champions from across the nation. Viewers were encouraged to go online and become a Champion themselves by finding a mentoring opportunity in their local community. 

Divided into 8 half hour-long content strands, topics included: Early Education, More and Better Learning, Special Needs Communities, Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement, and College and Career Readiness. Each half-hour featured compelling live and taped interviews, live remote panels across the nation, mini-documentaries and celebrity testimonials.

In the weeks leading up to the broadcast, special events were held nationwide, including ringing the NASDAQ closing bell. National media coverage included: a Time Motto opinion piece by Soledad O’Brien, a People en Español feature on Prince Royce, and a Huffington Post Latino Voices feature, among others.

American Graduate Day 2016 was a part of "Spotlight Education" a week of primetime programs airing on PBS stations, focusing on the brightest ideas and the toughest challenges in the U.S. education system.  This special week of programming included eleven films and documentaries including special episodes of NOVA, Frontline, POV, PBS NewsHour and ending the week with American Graduate Day.  With "Spotlight Education," PBS and its member stations hope to encourage a national dialogue on the topic of education and celebrate the efforts of teachers, administrators, students and mentors.

Behind the Scenes of American Graduate Day 2016

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2016 Hosts and Guests

Soledad O'Brien
Soledad O'Brien
Juju Chang
Juju Chang
Sheba Turk
Sheba Turk
Susie Gharib
Susie Gharib
Rehema Ellis
Rehema Ellis
Colin Powell
General Colin Powell
Alma Powell
Alma Powell
Rachel Platten
Rachel Platten
Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal
Anthony K. Shriver
Anthony K. Shriver
Reshanda Grey
Reshanda Gray
Mark Messier
Mark Messier
Prince Royce
Prince Royce
Michael Hill
Michael Hill
Elmo
Elmo
Jack Ford
Jack Ford
Peggy Whitson
Peggy Whitson
Hari Sreenivasan
Hari Sreenivasan
Allison Williams
Allison Williams
Phillipa Soo
Phillipa Soo
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Alan Muraoka
Alan Muraoka
Paula Zahn
Paula Zahn
Hakeem Oluseyi
Hakeem Oluseyi
Allan Houston
Allan Houston
Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks
Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan