Winters High School Bachelor steeped in tradition
WINTERS – This small community nestled in the West Texas landscape roughly equidistant between San Angelo and Abilene is built on tradition. This tradition starts early and continues throughout their lives. One such tradition, which was once common throughout the Bible belt, is the bachelor’s service.
The Baccalaureate service is woven deep into the fabric of this community and many surrounding communities. Few people know the origins of the service. So where did it start?
According to the “Baccalaureate Service”, published by Columbia University in May 2018, “A much-repeated claim is that ‘”the bachelor’s service originated at Oxford University in 1432, when every bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic requirements.'”
According to several publications, their service came from “review sermons”. These were sermons that were required of all bachelors in Oxford before they started. This is mentioned in Medieval educationwritten by Ronald B. Begley and Joseph W Koterski in 2009.
The ceremony was first performed in the United States at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1760.
The difference between 1760 and today is that service is no longer performed on many public school campuses due to the Constitution and separation from the Church, such as the decision in Lee vs. Weisman (1992) case.
According to a Wikipedia entry, “Many (schools) have student-initiated services at private institutions not paid for with public funds, and as such are fully permitted by law. School-sponsored bachelor’s services for American public schools, on school grounds rarely occur, although denomination-affiliated private schools often hold them in the school chapel.”
Winters held his bachelor’s degree service at First Baptist Church. The service included the graduates filling the pews in their caps and robes as the singers performed Christian songs. Retired teacher Monte Angel was the guest speaker and serenaded the students with the song I hope you dance by Lee Ann Womack once he has finished his speech.
Some members of the class of 2022 took to the pulpit podium and talked to their classmates about the future. The service lasted about 45 minutes. It was followed by a reception in the church annex across the street where the graduates were surrounded by family members and munched on treats such as cookies and punch.
Photos were taken, memories were made, and graduates were able to participate in a historic service that is slowly disappearing from the American landscape. The graduates and their families showed their respect for the service and for each other in the cherished service.