Monday, May 24, 2004

Baccalaureates no longer a staple

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Jennifer Silver
Mt. Healthy High School graduating senior Jennifer Silver plays a duet with Andy Smith on piano at the baccalaureate service in their honor at Mt. Healthy Methodist Church.
(Photos by Melissa Heatherly /The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
Mt. Healthy High School graduating seniors, (left to right) Lauren Ford, Sarah Burkhardt, and Candice McBerry pray during the baccalaureate service in their honor at Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church.

MOUNT HEALTHY - Eighteen-year-old Jennifer Silver of Mount Healthy wasn't sure she had time to participate in the baccalaureate graduation service at her school.

But the faith she recently renewed was important enough that she found time.

"I've reconnected with God, and it's important to me to be able to show that to my church, but also to my peers at the high school and share my personal testimony," said Silver.

She and her boyfriend, Andy Smith, 17, are both members of the Mount Healthy United Methodist Church, where the Mount Healthy High School baccalaureate service was held Sunday. Together they performed a contemporary Christian piece of music, "Here with Me."

The baccalaureate is one of the district's longstanding traditions, dating back more than 80 years. While churches often have blessing ceremonies for their graduates, many of Greater Cincinnati's public schools no longer have or have never had the religious-themed ceremony that once was a staple of the graduation season.


• Ryle (Ky.) - 7 p.m. Tuesday, St. Timothy's Catholic Church, 10272 US 42, Union.

• Princeton - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Lincoln Heights Baptist Church, 9991 Wayne Ave.

• Northwest - 7 p.m. Thursday, high school auditorium, 10761 Pippin Road.

• Bethel-Tate - 7 p.m. Thursday, Bethel United Methodist Church, 402 W. Plane St.

• Lebanon - 7 p.m. Friday, high school auditorium, 160 Miller Road.

• Little Miami - 7 p.m. Friday, Wilmington College, Hermann Court.

• Anderson/Turpin - 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 1950 Nagel Road.

• Colerain - 7 p.m. May 30, high school auditorium, 8801 Cheviot Road.

• Lakota East - 7:30 p.m. June 3, Princeton Pike Church of God, 6101 Princeton-Glendale Road, Liberty Township.

• Lakota West - 7:30 p.m. June 3, Tri-County Baptist Church, 8195 Beckett Road, West Chester.

• Oak Hills - 8 p.m. June 3, high school, 3200 Ebeneezer Road.

• Fairfield - 7 p.m. June 4, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 400 Nilles Road.

• Mariemont - 2 p.m. June 6, high school auditorium, 3812 Pocahontas Ave.

One area of the Tristate is almost completely devoid of baccalaureate programs - the eastern suburbs and Clermont County. In Clermont, only Bethel-Tate High School continues to have a baccalaureate, and it's sponsored by the local ministerial association.

But the Southeast Ecumenical Clergy Group, a collection of pastors and other clergy in the Anderson Township area, is offering a baccalaureate open to graduates of Anderson, Turpin, Glen Este, Amelia, Milford, New Richmond and McNicholas.

"I think for students and families of faith, (graduation is) not only a milestone in their education, but a milestone in their faith," said Pastor Henry Zorn of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, which will host the program.

One eastern suburban district, Mariemont, is proud of its continued tradition of a student-organized baccalaureate, although its tone is less religious than some.

On the west side of town, Oak Hills, Colerain and Northwest each have the service.

In Warren County, Little Miami and Lebanon high schools will host baccalaureates, and in Butler County, both Lakota high schools, Ross and Fairfield high school seniors will participate. In Northern Kentucky, all three Boone County high schools and Campbell County High School have had or will have the ceremony.

At Princeton High School, a local group of ministers will host its eighth annual baccalaureate.

At Campbell County High School, a student led-group Christian club, Youth Alive, will put on a baccalaureate for the third year.

"Unfortunately, it's not always widely attended," said Youth Alive adviser Connie Hervey. "We've had as few as five or six seniors and their families show up and as many as 30 in the class of 300."

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