Billy Joel to Speak at His Hometown High School’s Commencement

Billy Joel
Billy Joel. Photo credit: Sylvain Gaboury/

Fifty years after his own scheduled commencement, Billy Joel will return to his alma mater, Hicksville High School, to speak at the school’s graduation ceremony.

Joel, who started his musical career in Hicksville, actually never received a high school diploma. Though reportedly a strong student, he failed to gain enough credits to graduate, as he spent most his time focusing on music. While he did have the option to take summer classes and earn his diploma, he decided to fully devote his time and passion to music. In Billy Joel: The Life and Times of Angry Young Man, he said, “To hell with it. If I’m not going to Columbia University, I’m going to Columbia Records, and you don’t need a high school diploma over there.”

Joel went on to have an extremely successful music career, but returned to Hicksville High School in 1992 to receive his diploma

Alongside the principal and other faculty, Joel will address over 400 students in the class of 2017, along with the principal and other faculty, at the 10 a.m. ceremony this weekend. Each student will receive five tickets to invite their friends and family, while gates for the rest community will open around 9:30.

A school spokeswoman told Newsday, “We’re hoping for good weather, but there seems a very good likelihood of rain.” If it does rain, the graduation will be held in the gymnasium, making it the second graduation Joel attended indoors.

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