NBC's Brian Williams will speak at Hillwood graduation - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

NBC's Brian Williams accepts students' invitation, will speak at Hillwood graduation

'NBC Nightly News' anchor Brian Williams 'NBC Nightly News' anchor Brian Williams
The students at Hillwood High School want Brian Williams to speak at their upcoming graduation. The students at Hillwood High School want Brian Williams to speak at their upcoming graduation.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams told Hillwood students watching at Channel 4 that he would deliver the address at the school's graduation ceremony next month.

The students at Hillwood created a video to invite the longtime anchor to speak at their graduation and sent it to Williams in New York.

"I want to say at the outset that the students at Hillwood High did a great job. And I am enormously flattered that they found value in my words at the commencement I gave when my son graduated from college," said Williams on Monday's Channel 4 News at 4 p.m.

"I've seen the picture of all of the students who are gathered there at the station having a viewing party. I wanted to come on and talk to you because their invitation deserved the proper answer and we wanted to do the right thing. I feel so apologetic, with the students sitting there, apologetic because it's taken me so long to say we're doing this. I'll be there."

Williams' announcement set off an excited cheer from the students watching at Channel 4.

"At first when he was saying that he was apologetic, I thought he was going to say no, so I got kind of upset," said Katarina Zecevic, who was watching from the studio. "But when he said that he was sorry it took so long to say yes, I was really excited."

"It's the best feeling ever," said Warren Thomas after watching Williams' announcement. "We put in a lot of hard work and it feels good to have that hard work pay off."

He's the voice of national news in millions of homes every weeknight, but it's a different script from Williams that's taken hold at the Nashville school.

"I saw him on Jimmy Fallon before seeing him on the news. He seems like a pretty cool guy," said Hillwood student Brandon Armstrong.

In another recent commencement speech posted online, Williams told his audience to break the cycle of entitlements and go after their ambitions.

Hillwood students say they like two things about him: His no-nonsense message, and the fact that he's a college dropout who found success through hard work.

That message reached Music City. So the inspired students sent him their pitch in the form of a video invitation.

"It's given us hope. We're gonna try to push, like he did. Instead of just giving up and being entitled for everything, we should just try harder," Armstrong said.

Now, they're walking the walk. Grades are up at Hillwood. And for three straight years, its graduation rate is highest among Metro's 12 neighborhood schools.

The motivation came from the news guy.

"No excuses - not big on excuses," Williams said in that recent speech.

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