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What's a Baccalaureate Ceremony?


College graduates standing in a row
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Definition: Baccalaureate is a centuries-old religious graduation tradition that started in England, but in the United States, the term generally refers to a non-denominational ceremony held a few days before high school or college graduation. Unlike the massive commencement exercises held in stadiums or arenas, baccalaureate ceremonies offer a quieter, more intimate opportunity to pause and reflect on this rite of passage, hear faculty members offer advice to the graduating class and enjoy students' musical talents.

At religious private schools, the ceremony may include a benediction and sermon. A public school baccalaureate typically features student and faculty speakers. Some schools have renamed the event a "Day of Reflection," to avoid any religious connotations.

Families usually dress up for this event, which typically runs an hour or more, and bring cameras to take photographs afterward. Many families hold their graduation parties later the same day. Graduation day itself tends to be too full, and many schools begin their Grad Night festivities immediately after the diplomas have been distributed.

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