David Pressgrove: Baccalaureate an opportunity worth taking advantage of

I still have fond memories of my high school baccalaureate.

Back in the “good ole days,” I played drums in a band with my best friend and his older brother. We were asked if we would play a couple of songs for the ceremony, and it was one of the first times we played for a crowd of more than 100. It was a big “gig” for us, and we were honored to do it.

What I don’t remember is whether the baccalaureate was a required activity. It was in the evening, so I can’t imagine it was required, but it seemed to be well attended — it must have been because of the stellar musical guests.

I never imagined when I was graduating from high school that I would help to organize baccalaureates as a part of my vocation. Back then, I wanted to write advertising copy for commercials that would appear in the Super Bowl. God had other plans, though, and this year will be the seventh baccalaureate I have helped put together with the other members of the Craig Ministerial Alliance.

The baccalaureate in Craig has averaged an attendance of 20 to 30 graduating seniors. Each year after the service, I have had at least one adult ask me why it was poorly attended. It usually accompanies a story from their baccalaureate. My typical response is, “I’m not sure how we can make it grow other than getting churches to promote it better.”

Many private colleges and high schools have baccalaureates as part of the graduation ceremony. The research I could find indicates the ceremony started in the 15th century at Oxford University when graduates were required to give a sermon in Latin. But as most of you know, the Supreme Court has not been too sympathetic toward faith-based activities in public venues. Baccalaureates no longer can be sanctioned or promoted by the school. Yet, it is permissible to host an event if it is organized by an independent organization.

I’m thankful that Moffat County High School’s administration provides a venue for us to host baccalaureate. The celebration is the sole time that the faith community is allowed in the high school.

Think about that. In a time when people complain about prayer being removed from school, we get an opportunity once a year to show up. What does it say when no one comes?

We have several churches that have Wednesday evening services or youth groups that cancel their normal plans and come to baccalaureate. Consider this your 500-word invitation to come to this year’s baccalaureate. We have six seniors from a variety of churches speaking, some talented musicians and, my favorite part, an opportunity to adopt a graduate to pray for them for a year. This year’s ceremony is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Oh, and there are some yummy homemade treats to enjoy afterward.

David Pressgrove is the director of Bear River Young Life in Craig. He can be reached at ylbear_river@yahoo.com and 970-629-9600.

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