The Clinton County Historical Society was able to locate programs from the 81st, 87th and 96th baccalaureate services in 1955, 1961 and 1970 respectively.

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CLINTON — It has been at least two decades since the last baccalaureate service was held at Clinton High School for a graduating class.

But that will change this year.

The Clinton Ministerial Association will host a baccalaureate service for the Clinton High School 2009 graduation class on May 17. The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Vernon Cook Theater.

A baccalaureate service is a celebration that honors a graduating senior class from a college or high school. This event is historically religious in nature and invariably Christian, as will be this event at Clinton High School.

The baccalaureate service is believed to have originated at Oxford University in 1432. It derives from the medieval European custom of presenting the candidates for the degree of Bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri). It is a service of worship in celebration of and thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom.

Several local pastors have been discussing regenerating a baccalaureate service in Clinton over the last several years.

“It is important for our young adults, especially during this time of transition, to know that God has a plan and purpose for their lives and that they have a supportive Christian community that cares for them now and in the years to come,” said the Rev. Bobb Barrick, current president of the Clinton Ministerial Association, and pastor of First United Methodist Church. “This service is just one way we can encourage our graduates in their faith journey as they continue their walk through life."

Richard Basden, superintendent of the Clinton School District, added, “During my career, I have had the privilege to serve in two public school districts where the local clergy hosted an optional baccalaureate service. We, as free citizens, are indeed fortunate to live in a country and a city that places a high value on community, family and faith. A baccalaureate service is both a culmination activity and a new beginning as our future leaders move to adulthood and their life work. What better way to send them off, than with a blessing.”

Graduates are asked to gather in the Commons at 1:45 the day of the service as they will sit together as a class (caps and gowns will not be worn). The Rev. Laura Renault, Chaplain of the Clinton Ministerial Association and Pastor of First Congregational Church said, “This will be a service of joy and celebration as it will include students from the Class of 2009 and local clergy participation.”

The ministerium has invited Ben Boothby, Class of 2007, to be the keynote speaker.

“I feel greatly honored that the Ministerial Association thought of me for this occasion. It is not everyday one receives an opportunity to speak to individuals about such a passionate topic. I am eager to share my college and life experiences and my walk with Christ with the graduating Class of 2009,” said Boothby.

Boothby was the 2007 state heavyweight wrestling champ and is currently a student at Northern Iowa University.

All our welcome at this event and there will be a light reception to follow. A free-will offering will be taken to help support the 2010 Gateway After Prom organization.

If you are a 2009 graduate and would like to read Scripture or a special reading, call at Barrick at 242-5868 or Renault at 243-1299.

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