Baccalaureate: Tradition remains strong in Coweta
From Staff Reports
Baccalaureate – a ceremony with religious and academic components stretching back six centuries – is alive and well in Coweta County.
Students from all three public high schools were invited to attend Baccalaureate services on May 20. Newnan High School’s service was held at First Baptist Church of Newnan.
Pastors spoke at each church. Students sang, spoke and read Bible passages.
The Baccalaureate service is believed to have originated at Oxford University in 1432 when each candidate for a bachelor’s degree was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic exercise. Since the earliest universities in the United States were founded primarily to educate ministers, the British practice of the Baccalaureate service was continued in early America.
Baccalaureate typically includes hymns and musical selections performed by student musicians and choirs — as well as readings, prayers and reflections by students — along with a message from a local member of the clergy.
Baccalaureate programs were typical in the Southern United States for many years and were sponsored by schools and school systems until court rulings found that practice to be a violation of church-state separation. Several years ago, churches began sponsoring Baccalaureate for Coweta County students.
Attendance at Baccalaureate is optional for students. All three services were well attended by students and their families.