Christian Ceremony Inspires Graduates

To receive diplomas in a traditional secular ceremony, Wausau West High School’s graduating seniors in Wisconsin will fill the school’s field house in the coming weeks.  However, seniors from the area’s three largest high schools — D.C. Everest, Wausau West, and Wausau East — attended a different kind of ceremony on the night of May 19, 2002.        To usher young graduates into adult lives of faith, area Christians have put together Christian Baccalaureate Celebrations since 1994.

The separate ceremony from the traditional secular ceremony gives participants the freedom to focus sentiments and activities on the spiritual.  Opening the evening with “A Servant’s Prayer,” a song of gratitude to God and hope for inspiration and grace in the future, Cassie Gering sang, “Lord, it is you who has brought me to this day.”  Fellow Wausau West students Chee Yong on a 12-string guitar and Aaron Appleton on bongos accompanied Gering and Kelli McDonald.  Used on this night, although not unheard of in graduation ceremonies, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” was sung as “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” To greet the more than 150 graduates in their blue, red and green caps and gowns as they entered the gym, family and friends sang this song.           

From D.C. Everest’s Lindsay Meinhardt’s soulful rendition of “He’s Been Faithful” to a three-school combined chorus singing “Together as One,” (the evening’s theme), the evening was permeated with spiritual music and scripture readings.

Reverend Steven Brice of St. Anne’s Catholic Church led the young minds gathered before him to approach the “restless waters” ahead of them with faith, hope and love before leading everyone in an opening prayer.

Although he is labeled as a motivational speaker when he visits public schools around the country to talk about “principles and values,” the evening’s impassioned guest speaker — the Reverend Bob Lenz — said he enjoys talking about Jesus more.  Telling them some just survive, some make a living and some make a difference, Lenz gave the young people in front of him plenty to think about.  Lenz said, “Don’t settle for less than what God has for you.  Don’t just survive.  Dream.”

(David Paulsen, “Graduates give not to God; baccalaureate salutes spiritual side of achievement,” Wausau Daily Herald, May 20, 2002)



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