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Celebrate graduates with prayer
By TIMES STAFF
Published May 19, 2007
They're graduation celebrations, with religious overtones. These events, called baccalaureate services, have fallen out of favor in some communities because of concerns about the separation of church and state, but many Pasco high schools still offer them.
"We tell (students) it's a community celebration of achievement that has a religious tone to it, " Pasco High School Principal Pat Reedy said. "Nobody is trying to convert you. It's a community's way of saying thanks for a job well done and good luck."
About half of his school's graduating seniors attend the ceremony, he said.
The schools themselves do not sponsor the events, but a committee of parents or students makes arrangements through local churches. Constitutional scholars say that's legal.
Here's a list of baccalaureates for high schools that have them:
Pasco: 7 p.m. Monday, First Baptist Church of Dade City.
Zephyrhills: 6 p.m. Sunday, Trinity United Methodist Church, Wesley Chapel.
Wesley Chapel: 3 p.m. Sunday, First Baptist Church of Wesley Chapel.
Ridgewood: 6 p.m. Monday, Oasis Christian Fellowship Church, New Port Richey.
Mitchell: 7 p.m. Wednesday, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, New Port Richey.
River Ridge: 4 p.m. Sunday, Immanuel Lutheran Church, New Port Richey.