CAMDEN — The Camden Hills Regional High School Class of 2019 stepped into graduation week Monday afternoon, June 10, under bright sunshine and enough of a breeze to catch the edge of the new mortarboards, teasing them off foreheads with a sense of joy, as the soon-to-be graduates picked up their pace into the final days as seniors.
The baccalaureate is one of the high school’s long standing traditions, and perhaps its finest, when the graduating class puts on caps and gowns, and marches through Camden’s downtown, while the community cheers them on.
The march began at Camden-Rockport Middle School, with the seniors striding down Knowlton Street to Mechanic Street, where they turned left, walked over Bakery Bridge to Washington Street, turned right and went over Tannery Lane to meet up with Route 1, just across the street from the Camden Public Library’s park.
Lead by bagpipes, clergy and their marshals, the seniors walked down the middle of Route 1 through town, and up to the First Congregational Church, where they gathered with their families for interdenominational prayer and thanks.
The baccalaureate is an academic and spiritual tradition with roots in the Middle Ages, and honors education and learning.
Every June, Camden Hills repeats the parade and church gathering on the Monday preceding the Friday evening graduation, which always begins at 7:59 p.m., in the high school gym.
Under the guidance of English teacher Todd Williams, graduation week is a joyful celebration for seniors and families, but the baccalaureate is for the community, which turns out in force to applaud the graduates.
Some graduates wore heels, some barn or biker boots, and some wore sneakers or Birkenstocks. And as always, they were beautiful and handsome and perfect — ready for what lies ahead.
For Camden Hills, the tradition has continued for decades, with clergy representing the Chestnut Street Baptist, St. Thomas' Episcopal, John Street United Methodist and Congregational churches, as well as the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue and St. Brendan the Navigator Parish.
At the Congregational Church, families squeezed into pews behind the seniors, and up in the balcony, listening, responding, and singing.
Congratulations, Class of 2019!