Origin of Baccalaureate service
It is said that the baccalaureate service originated at the University of Oxford in the 14th century when each bachelor was needed to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his educational requirements.
The baccalaureate service is a religious service to celebrate the completion of graduation degree of a candidate. It is held each year and within a few days of the graduation. This occasion is marked by a procession that includes anthems, music, readings, scriptures, prayers and speeches by students, including a Senior Reflection and a Family Tribute.
Speeches are given occasionally between musical performances, drama, and worship. The service can continue from half an hour to as long as four hours. At the time of service, a sermon or inspirational message is delivered by a faculty member or leader in the religious group of people.
The staff and the graduates march in cap and gown for the grand ceremony.
The service is different from a graduation ceremony, which is hosted in a large stadium with a cheering audience around. A baccalaureate service is generally held in a church or chapel, where the atmosphere is calm, reserved and spiritual. Sometimes, it is held in a school building or some other indoor venue.
The faculty member or religious leader focuses on prayers for the future success of the senior graduates, thanksgiving for the achievements made in education, and reflects upon the academic duties that students have endured throughout their career.
Planning For the Ceremony
The education ministers or respected leaders from each church meet and start preparations two months before graduation. A host church is decided for the event and a speaker is selected. Then the graduates' names and their addresses are obtained from some source.
Another church who is not hosting the event, is under an obligation of printing and sending invitations to each graduate and his or her family. Each faculty, and members of administration and school board are also invited.
After the invitation process, the worship service is planned. The speaker decides the procedures based on the scripture. Speakers may be community leaders, faculty members, students, local religious leaders, or other important figures. He or she may also be elected by the graduating class itself.
The procedure begins with a gathering time and prelude music when family and friends are seated and graduates gather. Next step is some hymns are sung while the graduates come forward, and an initial prayer is said. Following this, baccalaureate message is given by the speaker. Musical performances are performed in between.
The graduating class is acknowledged and each graduate is recognized by his or her name. After this, a final prayer is said followed by a closing hymn. A week or more prior to the service, newsletters are printed. On the baccalaureate service day, ushers require to lead guests to the designated seating areas and distribute programs.
After the service, desserts are distributed to the guests by the church officials. Notes of admiration received from guests and students show that the service has been satisfactory and meaningful.
There are no hard and fast rules for dressing up for the big day. However, men are advised to wear suits, collared shirts, ties and formal trousers. Women are advised to wear dresses, or trousers and a blouse. Musicians may wear a casual concert attire or something extravagant. Guests may wear something which is appropriate, if not very formal.
Tickets and Seating
Each degree candidate may be allotted a specific number of tickets for guests in some organizations. Usually limited spaces are available for guests in the seating area inside the chapel. A ticket also does not guarantee a seating space and guests may expect to stand.
So, guests are advised to arrive at the venue before the scheduled time so that they can reserve their seats. Graduates who walk in the procession do not require tickets. In some others, tickets are complimentary.
Baccalaureate service gives us an opportunity to recall that our careers can only be successful by committing ourselves to the service of the common good.