As senior year comes to an end and graduation draws near, students are invited to partake in baccalaureate. However, does anyone actually know what baccalaureate really is? Formally defined as a religious service to honor the graduating class, in many institutions of higher education the baccalaureate has evolved into a quieter, more reflective event that focuses on students’ personal growth and achievement.
Often held in a house of worship, the baccalaureate is a non-denominational spiritual service that allows for public school graduates to find spiritual meaning that aligns with their personal beliefs. In private and parochial schools, the baccalaureate ceremony will have a stronger religious tone in keeping with the school’s religious beliefs. By holding the ceremony in a house of worship, schools subtly encourage attendees and graduates to slow down, appreciate the moment and let emotions come and go as they will.
Other special events during baccalaureate often include performances by student choirs, vocalists and musicians, which allows for more introspection for both the graduates and the attendees. Many schools offer students who are not at the top of their classes the opportunity to submit to speak at baccalaureate, giving the general population of the graduating class the incentive to write something meaningful to share with their classmates.
Baccalaureate is often a moving and emotional experience for students and families, not to mention teachers and administrators. With the weight of worry about grades, college admissions, job searches and more lifted for most participants, relief and pride mix to create a lovely experience for everyone involved. Family and friends, as well as students, will dress up for this more restrained and heartfelt ceremony, where for graduation everyone is usually a bit more relaxed in their attire and boisterous in their enthusiasm. It is typical for the boys to wear white shirts and a tie and for the girls to wear white dresses and heels.
Chattahoochee High School’s baccalaureate is held at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church and this year will take place on Sunday May 7th from 2-3pm.