Another school year is starting across the nation.
But in what kind of schools?
Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Anna Deavere Smith and Common are just a few of the celebrities joining forces for "EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live," a special one-hour telecast that will invite the public to consider the state of high schools today and what they might be in the future.
The all-star telecast airs live Friday from Los Angeles on all four major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern. Others taking part include Mahershala Ali, Christian Slater, Randall Park, Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Thomas Mann, Bill Hader, Melissa Rivers and Kevin Frazier.
In addition, Justin Timberlake, U2, Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek are taking part, along with sports figures Marshawn Lynch and Chris Paul.
They will join Oscar winner and "How to Get Away With Murder" star Viola Davis and her husband, actor-producer Julius Tennon, the special's executive producers.
"We're always telling kids to go out into the world and be great," said Davis during a recent interview. "But we don't always tell them how to do that."
Tennon added, "It's really, really important that communities all across our country come together and realize how important it is to rethink and reshape the way we're educating our kids."
While technology and society have raced forward in the past 100 years, high school hasn't kept up. The special will highlight efforts to correct that by the XQ Institute, which was co-founded by a former assistant education secretary in President Barack Obama's administration and billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs. Along with the XQ Institute, a participating group is the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which harnesses the collective power of the industry to generate awareness and funds for critical health, educational and social issues. (Its other initiatives include Stand Up To Cancer.)
In 2015, XQ: The Super School Project launched an open call to rethink and design the next American high schools. Since then, thousands of communities across the country have come together to reimagine high school education. Friday's special will report on the progress of this movement and challenge viewers to build on it.
The telecast will also feature a live musical performance by Andra Day, comedy sketches and documentary segments to bring to life the past, present and future of high school in America.
The program will culminate in a performance led by Jennifer Hudson with Sheryl Crow, Max Weinberg and Max Weinberg's Jukebox, Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, MC Hammer, Jon Boogz and Sheila E.
"The program will show how parents, educators, school administrators, entrepreneurs and business leaders can influence change within high school," said Tennon.
"It's going to give people information about how they can access the tools necessary to rethink their schools and prepare their students for the future," said Davis. "You know the old expression: 'Go big or go home'?"
"We're going big, baby!" said Tennon. "Dream big, dream fierce!"
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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