A community of many faiths

The Mercer Island senior class of 2013 held an interfaith baccalaureate on Wednesday, June 5, the evening before graduation, as part of the long-standing Mercer Island graduation tradition. The Mercer Island baccalaureate is a student-led, interfaith community gathering that applauds the students’ accomplishments and blesses them on their way. Baccalaureate is an inclusive event of all faiths, and recognizes the deep bonds shared in high school while honoring this important transition to adulthood.

Baccalaureate 2013 was held at St. Monica Catholic Church and celebrated the faith traditions of the graduating class, with the theme “Seasons of Love.” MIHS senior Kris Brackmann served as master of ceremonies and introduced Fr. Patrick Frietag, pastor of St. Monica Catholic Church, who warmly welcomed graduating seniors, their families and friends to the celebration. Pastor Deanna Wildermuth, of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, led the invocation. Speakers for the baccalaureate program were chosen by the class of 2013. Student speakers Tuan-Dat Nguyen and Cristina Scalzo, along with faculty speaker, Colin Bush, provided motivational and inspiring words.

Musical performances included a prelude performed by senior Stuart Burke on piano; the interlude “Miles of Time” from the musical “Trails,” performed by the vocal duet of seniors Lexie Jones and Julie Hamp, accompanied by pianist Jessie Lu. A senior string quintet with Caleb Chuck, Sydney Thieme, Jacob Fong-Gurzinsky, Anna Hasche-Kluender, David Woolsten performed the final interlude with “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney.

The common thread of creation is represented in many faith traditions. Graduating seniors Nikhil Mishra (Hindu), Ellie Palmberg (Christian), Sahir Noorani (Muslim), and Yoton Bentov (Jewish) spoke about creation as it relates to their individual faith traditions.

The evening concluded with a blessing of the students by the entire faith community and a benediction by Julie Steel, children and family ministries pastor at Mercer Island Covenant Church. Herzl-Ner Tamid’s Rabbi Ben Maslan provided a moving explanation of the meaning of the shofar, as Carol Maslan’s blowing of the shofar concluded the ceremony.

Seniors, their families, and the entire community gathered in St. Monica Parish Hall after the baccalaureate for a reception and gallery featuring the graduating seniors’ artworks.

The Baccalaureate Planning Committee meets during the spring semester at the high school and consists of student, parent, faculty and clergy representatives.

High school students and parents who would like to be involved in the 2014 Baccalaureate Planning Committee should contact Kathy Fisher, director of Intergenerational Ministry Programs, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, at (206) 232-3270.


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