MORRIS – In years past, prior to most high school graduations, a baccalaureate ceremony was hosted by the high school.
Baccalaureate is a centuries-old religious graduation tradition that started in England. It typically refers to a non-denominational ceremony held prior to graduation.
Morris Community High School Principal Kelly Hussey said that with the separation of church and state, the schools were taken out of the mix when it comes to planning the event.
"It has to be initiated by the community or a student," Hussey said. "We just provide the space to hold it at school."
The Rev. Dr. Roy Backus, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Morris, will be the keynote speaker at this year's Morris Community High School Baccalaureate.
"We will emphasize how faith and education come together," Backus said. "They balance each other in a spiritual love."
The Morris Ministerial Association has stepped in and asked the school to hold the event for the past several years in an attempt to keep the tradition alive.
Hussey said when he graduate high school years ago, Baccalaureates were run by the high school.
"Back when I was in high school it was a given that you attend," Hussey said. "It was just part of graduation."
Backus said that education was an important part of his family tradition and he was taught to evaluate faith along with history and science, and that people shouldn't fear the two.
"Thoughtful reflection shows how the two can come together to enhance your life," Backus said.
Both Hussey and Backus said the numbers in attendance have dwindled but they are hoping that changes.
"We're hoping to get a better draw," Hussey said. "Some local churches honor and bless their graduates during their own ceremony, so people may feel that is enough."
Backus said they've changed the event this year to feature the varsity choir along with some soloists, to add to the traditional keynote address.
The event will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Morris Community High School Auditorium.
The event will be geared to the Morris High School seniors but others, along with the community, are invited to attend.
IF YOU GO
What: Morris Community High School Baccalaureate
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Auditorium at Morris Community High School, 1000 Union St., Morris