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Lea Michele & Original Cast to 'Graduate' from GLEE in 2012?

All of the GLEE students who are currently juniors within the show's plot will be graduating at the end of next season, the show's creator confirmed today. "We didn't want to have a show where they were in high school for eight years," Ryan Murphy told Ryan Seacrest on his radio show. "We really wanted to be true to that experience."

Though Murphy didn't mention specifics as to which characters would be making their graduation next season, many of the main characters were juniors in the second season of the smash FOX show. This would leave GLEE with many new faces to fill the void, unless they choose to have the current characters continue outside of the realm of McKinley High.

Although there's been no word yet on whether or not the stars will remain on the show in that vicinity, GLEE star Lea Michele and several of her co-stars have Broadway backgrounds and Michele was recently all but ruled out of the upcoming FUNNY GIRL revival due to her television shooting schedule. If she were to end her run on GLEE, might she and her co-stars return to their stage roots?

Only time will tell, but in the mean time, a new face will be joining GLEE sooner rather than later: the winner of 'The Glee Project' will appear on the show for at least seven episodes next season.

In the short amount of time since GLEE hit the airwaves, the series has racked up two Platinum and two Gold albums, two Grammy Award nominations, more than 22 million song downloads, the No. 1 soundtrack of 2010 ("The Christmas Album") and an incredible 19 Emmy and 11 Golden Globe nominations, as well as four Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes, including the award for Best Television Series Comedy or Musical. The critically acclaimed "Glee Live! In Concert!," starring 14 members of the television show's cast, will return to North American concert stages this spring.

GLEE follows an optimistic teacher who - against all odds and a malicious cheerleading coach - inspires McKinley High's Glee Club to conquer the world one singing competition at a time. GLEE stars Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz.

GLEE is produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan are co-creators of the series. Murphy, Falchuk and Dante di Loreto serve as executive producers, while Ian Brennan serves as co-executive producer.

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