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Actress Jenny Slate to give speech to tiny graduating class

Published: Friday, June 07, 2019 @ 10:17 AM

Jenny Slate - What You Need to Know

Actress Jenny Slate, known for her roles on “Parks and Recreation” “Saturday Night Live” and as the voice of Assistant Mayor Bellwether in “Zootopia,” will have a very small audience when she addresses the Class of 2019.

Slate will give the graduation speech for the ceremony at Cuttyhunk Elementary on Cuttyhunk Island off Cape Cod. The ceremony will graduate only one eighth grade student, 13-year-old Gwen Lynch, The New York Times reported.

Cuttyhunk Island has a population of about 12 people most of the year, the Cape Cod Times reported. Vacationers fill the 2 and a half mile long island during the summer, according to The New York Times.

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It can only be reached by either boat or plane.

Gwen, who is the only student at the one-room schoolhouse, first asked Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey to speak at her ceremony. Slate was the one who accepted the invitation.

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“At first I was a little confused. I couldn’t put a name to a face. And then I looked her up, and I was like ‘Oh my God! This lady’s actually coming to talk to me.’ I was kind of blown away,” Gwen told the New York Times.

It was actually a part-time resident of the island who got Slate to come to Gwen’s graduation. 

Michael Astrue, a former Social Security Administration commissioner, got Cady Coleman to come last year. 

FILE PHOTO: Astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman attends a screening of "The Space Between Us" hosted by The Cinema Society at Landmark Sunshine Cinema on January 25, 2017, in New York City.(Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

This year the self-proclaimed “speaker-getter” remembered he knew Slate’s father, poet Ron Slate and emailed him. 

Slate also has another connection to the island. Ben Shattuck, her boyfriend, is the director of the Cuttyhunk Island Writers’ ResidencyThe New York Times reported.

FILE PHOTO: Jenny Slate and Ben Shattuck attend a screening during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theater on May 04, 2019 in New York City.(Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Still, she was feeling the pressure. 

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“For some reason, I just felt like, ‘Oh my God. This is really intense. This is really important. Are you sure they want me?’” Slate told the New York Times

She’s also reached out to the eighth-grade graduate to be. 

“It was really important to me to try to get to know her a little bit so I could say something to her that’s more than a cliché” or a “directive coming from an adult who’s a stranger,” Slate explained.

Gwen hopes to become a mechanical engineer. She is also planning to speak during her graduation ceremony on scheduled for June 17.

With Gwen’s graduation, the school will have no more students, so it is being changed to a STEAM academy where non-local students can visit, the Cape Cod Times reported.