While many high school seniors capture the days leading up to graduation through a digital camera, a Twitter or Facebook post, La Cañada High School student Goldie Young, 17, recorded her experiences by putting pencil to paper.
Standing in the patio of St. Bede the Venerable Church on Tuesday afternoon, Young shifted her gaze from the classmates she was drawing, to her pad, then back again.
Her classmates had gathered in the patio to attend the fourth annual Interfaith Baccalaureate Service presented by the La Cañada Flintridge Ecumenical Ministerial Assn. The service is open to students and their families of all faiths from area schools, including La Cañada, St. Francis and Crescenta Valley high schools. The baccalaureate featured scripture readings from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.
“It’s interesting how we try and address the different faiths,” said Young, a Christian who plans to attend UC Davis in the fall. “I know that when I go off to college, there will be a lot of diversity.”
LCHS student Jeff Facer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints read a passage from the Book of Mormon that focused on giving thoughts and emotions to God.
Choral pieces were also presented, and the keynote address was given by LCHS alumnus John May, a nondenominational Christian young adult ministry Young Life leader .
“In this day and age when the evening news is filled with reports of sectarian violence and religious intolerance, it becomes more and more imperative that people of all faiths come together and work to build the world in which all religions are respected and all peoples are free to worship according to their conscience,” said St. Bede Associate Pastor Rev. Kevin Kester.
The baccalaureate is inclusive of as many faiths and schools as possible, said event organizer Levent Akbarut. Most years, 75 to 100 students attend the service, a fraction of the total students who graduate from the area’s high schools. Although the event is publicized, Akbarut says the low numbers may be the result of the baccalaureate taking place the night before graduation in most schools, as in the case of La Cañada High, or because graduation ceremonies have already taken place.
Begun in 2007, the local baccalaureate is organized by the La Cañada Ecumenical Ministerial Assn., comprising La Cañada religious leaders who gather to address issues of religious importance to the community.
LCHS student Kate Hansen, 18, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints, said she uses her faith as support when she pursues her favorite sport, luge.
“It can only be a good thing in someone’s life; it can never be a negative thing,” Hansen said about her faith. “We should all open our hearts.”