Most seniors and their parents are clear about the meaning of Commencement, the occasion which celebrates graduates' academic achievement by the awarding of diplomas. Baccalaureate is less familiar as many students did not have such an event at their high school.
At Baccalaureate, Earlham celebrates the importance of the whole journey that students and faculty have undertaken together. It is an occasion to reflect on the joys and struggles of the past four years, and to celebrate the growth of students and of their mentors.
Reflecting the Quaker nature of the College, Baccalaureate at Earlham incorporates elements similar to those found in programmed Friends Meetings for Worship — typically opening and closing prayers, reading(s), hymn(s) which everyone is invited to sing, a prepared message by a speaker from the faculty, time(s) for silent worship and reflection and song(s) by the Baccalaureate Choir (made up of seniors, faculty, staff, alumni and community members). Baccalaureate also includes aspects of academic ceremony such as the processional and recessional (seniors and faculty walking in together at the beginning and out at the conclusion).
The College strives to make it an occasion of worship and centering for all who are present. Many seniors, faculty and staff find Baccalaureate to be a significant event as they seek closure for their time together in these four years at Earlham.