By Mary Ryerse

On Friday, September 8, 2017, XQ America hosted a live broadcast event to invite any and all to rethink high school together. The event was broadcasted by ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox and featured more celebrities than we could count.

It opened with a captivating MTV-esque music video set in high school hallways and classrooms. If you grew up anytime near the 80s like I did (or if you like 80s music), you may have found yourself singing along to “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and flashing back to the movie The Breakfast Club.

Sprinkled amongst several celebrity performances and speeches were short films highlighting the need for evolution in education and featuring several of the XQ Super Schools (seeing the schools was my favorite part). Many of the stars also paid tributes to inspirational teachers. A few other highlights included a school bus version of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke segment on CBS’s “The Late Late Show,” and a finale of musical greats, including none other than Ringo Starr himself, singing the Beatles’ “Come Together.”

What We Appreciated

  1. The schools themselves. How could the schools not be our favorite part? Representatives were there from the XQ Super Schools. We are excited for and proud of the work these schools are doing: New Harmony High, Furr High School, Grand Rapids Public Museum High School, RISE High, Powderhouse Studios, Brooklyn LAB School, Design Lab HS, Vista Challenge Super School, Washington Leadership Academy and Summit Elevate.
  2. That it happened. This was an education event that brought together the four major television networks – ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox – and involved over 60 celebrities from all areas of entertainment – music, movies, Broadway and television – including Tom Hanks, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Salma Hayek, U2, Cindy Crawford and many others.
  3. Increased awareness and shared information.  Flashing across the screen were relevant and unsettling facts. For example, 70% of today’s American high school students feel that the classroom experience simply isn’t relevant to their daily lives.
  4. One more place to connect with XQ. XQ has provided lots of publicity opportunities, including the 30-city bus tours, the knowledge modules, and the epic event revealing the ten XQ Super Schools. This program was another great way to get a large audience tuned in.
  5. Multiple ways to engage. In addition to engaging all the major networks, it was also aired through Facebook Live and YouTube, streamed live updates through Twitter and Instagram, and had a Red Carpet Event leading up to the show, making it all the more accessible and appealing to different audiences.

Regarding the red carpet pre-show event — while much of that was focused on the celebrities – the most touching part was the interviews with the schools and students. Likewise, where the celebrities were able to draw the attention throughout the program, the stories from everyday, ordinary students and teachers were the most effective.

Common Theme: Opportunity to Go Deeper

Reading a couple of other takes on the event, a common theme was that the event was entertaining and attention grabbing — and left room to go deeper in the future.

An EdWeek article deemed the program “less edgy” than the previous show in 2015, which was titled “Think It Up,” but noted the show to be a worthwhile combination of entertainment and education and highlighted the concluding comments by Viola Davis and Tom Hanks to be supportive of the American ability to be great when faced with a challenge.

Additionally, an Ed Surge article noted the that the show oversimplified its critique of the education system — most can agree that “education deserves all the support and attention it can get.”

From a Getting Smart perspective — as a firm that, among other things, designs communication plans for our partners — we’re aware of how important it is to be making a powerful case for new and innovative issues in education. While it may not have been as cutting edge as we, as edu-wonks, would’ve liked, we nonetheless think it moved the needle towards where it needs to be for the millions of Americans who tuned in.

How to Access

You can replay the live event on YouTube here:

 

For more, see:


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