In a feel-good segment yesterday, TV personality and New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres awarded $10,000 each to eight brand new St. Tammany High School graduates. The group all works at a Wynn Dixie in Slidell. The segment aired on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, a syndicated daytime talk show.
NOLA.com posted a clip from the episode in an article. Ellen, with her characteristic blonde bangs and wearing an orange tracksuit, appears to be calling the grocery store from home. The graduates and their two managers answer in what can only be the Wynn Dixie break room. Celebratory balloons and graduation caps and robes indicate the occasion; everyone's wearing face protection.
During the interview, the recent seniors lament what they've lost as a result of the pandemic: prom and a proper ceremony. Using the language of war time that's come to describe the coronavirus months, they refer to themselves as "frontline workers." Mostly, the group acknowledges the meaning to be found in personal sacrifice. One graduate, Owen Donnelly, says, "We see the bigger picture."
Store managers Genel Schwab and Jimmy Scott, sympathetic to their subordinates' plight, staged a makeshift ceremony. They invited their parents; Scott delivered a commencement speech. Footage reveals him handing the students diplomas and ironic toilet paper cakes, a nod to that memeable moment earlier in the quarantine when panicked shoppers caused a shortage.
Ellen invites the Wynn Dixie managers to her annual "12 Days of Giveaways," a series of shows where Ellen lavishes luxury items on her guests. She then instructs Scott and Schwab to hand out envelopes to the eight graduates. They open them to find $10,000 checks.
Ellen plugs her advertiser for the segment, Green Dot Bank, an online banking service. The money for the graduates apparently comes from that company.