Demystifying Baccalaureate

Hannah Denaer, Staff Writer

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At 7:00 pm on May 23, Neuqua Valley will hold its annual Baccalaureate Service in the school’s auditorium. It is a faith-based service for seniors that, “celebrates and involves and integrates people from various faith backgrounds,” said Ryan Rimington, a choir director who orchestrates the audition process for the music performed at Baccalaureate.

Since it is a faith-based service, Baccalaureate is optional for students to attend. It is also an option for students to be highly involved if they choose to join the Baccalaureate Graduation Committee— a group who plans and leads the service. “Students are planning things that are important to students,” Rimington said.

For seniors who do choose to attend, they’ll essentially be a part of a smaller graduation service that’s centered around a celebration of faith. Similar to graduation, students will wear their graduation gowns at Baccalaureate.

Apurva Chaturvedi, a member of the committee, said that they’ve planned to have a community, faculty, and student speaker. Typically, the community speaker is a leader of the community, such as a priest. This year, “Dr. McBride really wants someone from the Sikh religion,” Chaturvedi said. The faculty speaker is usually a teacher who’s retiring. No final decisions have been made as to who those speakers are yet. There will also be several student musicians that perform at Baccalaureate, all of who had to go through an audition process that was directed by Rimington and the committee.

Although Neuqua has adapted the service to be a non-denominational celebration of multiple faiths, the origin of Baccalaureate is rooted in Christianity. The service is, “believed to have originated at Oxford University in 1432 when each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as a part of his academic exercise,” stated Columbia University. As a public school, Neuqua Valley must maintain a separation of church and state; therefore, the Baccalaureate service cannot promote religion or favor one religion above another.