Jenny Slate will be giving a speech to the entire graduating class of Cuttyhunk Elementary on June 17—which consists of one student, eighth-grader Gwen Lynch. The 13-year-old, who is the only student at the one-room schoolhouse on Cuttyhunk Island, tells the New York Times that she was "blown away" when she discovered that the actress and comedian, best-known for playing Mona-Lisa Saperstein on Parks and Recreation, would be the featured speaker. The island off Cape Cod only has around a dozen year-round residents, but one of the summer residents is former Social Security Administration commissioner Michael Astrue, who says he has become the "speaker-getter." He decided to get in touch with Slate because he knows her father, poet Ron Slate.
"It’s hard because they don’t pay anything. It’s hard to get to, and there's only one student,” says Astrue, who got retired astronaut Cady Coleman to speak when Gwen's brother Carter graduated last year. Slate, whose boyfriend, Ben Shattuck, runs a writers' residency, says it was an honor to be chosen and she has been in touch with Gwen to "try to at least be her companion a little bit in this." There will be a special late island ferry on graduation day. "It will be a packed room and most of the town will be there," Astrue tells the Cape Cod Times. In September, Gwen, who wants to be a mechanical engineer, will go to a boarding school in New Hampshire, while Cuttyhunk Elementary will be converted to a STEAM academy for visiting students. (Read more Jenny Slate stories.)