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Baccalaureate encourages grads to 'win spiritually'



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Kate Maloney sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Photo by Lance Farrell. (click for larger version)
June 06, 2012 - "The hope of our world lies within you," Father Mike Verschaeve told the seniors gathered at Oxford High School's Peforming Arts Center on May 31.

The annual Baccalaureate Service is a ceremony designed to encourage graduates to continue in their faith and to continue to make the type of choices that have led them to their present academic successes.

The service featured two vocal performances: senior Kate Maloney sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," and Choir Director Christopher Card interspersed passages from Psalm 23 within a multi-keyed version of "You Raise Me Up."

The Baccalaureate litany was read by seniors Ramilio Balde, Kayla Seawright, Mr. Adam Westmoreland, Pastor Larry Hayward, and Tim Throne, who is Oxford School's Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Technology.

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In the midst of a night of song and blessings, a keynote speech was delivered by Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson.

Hanson is a self-deprecating player who called himself the "losingest player in NFL history." He is actually an accomplished kicker who holds many NFL records, and was chosen to speak because of his accomplishments as a professional athlete who has maintained a spiritual commitment.

Pointing to the abundance of sporting programs among the top-rated television programs, Hanson spoke about the obvious importance of sports to our culture.

"We love sports because we love to compete, and because we love to win," the veteran gridiron great said to the listening senior class. "But as you enter a world that thrives on competition . . . the more important way to win is to win spiritually."

He challenged the graduates to be aware of their decisions, because the "choices they make today will influence the person you will become."

Senior Rick Pendred closed the evening with a reading of a poem called "The Cross," before Master of Ceremonies Cody Westmoreland dismissed the throng to the foyer for refreshments and fellowship.

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