photo of Lee Leipsner

Rockville High Graduation Rocks, Pharrell Williams, John Legend & One Direction Cameos (VIDEO)

photo of Lee Leipsner

Lee Leipsner

UPDATED Lee Leipsner, executive vice president for promotions at Columbia Records, was the keynote commencement speaker for Rockville High School on May 27 at Strathmore Hall and his speech began with some video shout outs from some of music’s hottest stars, including Pharrell Williams, John Legend, J. Cole,  Little Mix, Foster the People and One Direction.

“You do know you are the future, right, Rockville High,” said Williams in a video that was played for the graduates at the beginning of Leipsner’s formal address.  “I hope you have great success in the future,” said John Legend to the Rockville high school class of 2014.  Two bandmates from One Direction, Niall Horan and Harry Styles, congratulated the Rockville seniors before they formally introduced Leipsner from the class of 1985, and who they described as “very old.”

Students screamed every time the music stars said, “Rockville High.”

Leipsner graduated from Rockville High School nearly 30 years ago and he recalled that  former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop was the keynote speaker for his graduating class.

“I hope you can relate to me and my story. Why? Because I was once sitting where you are,” said Leipsner, who stressed the importance of hard work during his speech. “To succeed and be happy, find something you are passionate about,” said Leipsner. “For me, it was music.”

If the video messages were not enough, Leipsner also surprised four Rockville High School students with a pair of concert tickets to either the upcoming One Direction or Beyonce /JayZ shows. The tickets were hidden under the seats of the unsuspecting graduates. “If you don’t like what you got..don’t tell me, have fun on Stub Hub,” he said.

The principal of Rockville High School, Billie-Jean Bensen, said the students really had no idea who Leipsner was before he took the stage. She said there was no hype for his address and she said the students’ reaction to the videos and Leipsner’s message was unforgettable.  “They loved his speech,” she said.  “I’m still glowing,” she added, noting that some of the school’s juniors wanted to know if Leipsner could come back next year for their graduation.

You can watch Leipsner’s speech and see the star-studded tribute to the Rockville class of 2014 below:

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


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