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Prayer removed from Summerside high school grad ceremony

Three Oaks Senior High has eliminated the traditional invocation from the school's graduation ceremony.
Three Oaks Senior High has eliminated the traditional invocation from the school's graduation ceremony. - Millicent McKay

Summerside Presbyterian Church offers service for P.E.I. graduates looking to celebrate reflect on their school days

Tradition is about to be broken.

Three Oaks Senior High (TOSH) has removed the traditional invocation, a prayer or moment of reflection often pronounced by a reverend in the Summerside community, from this year's graduation ceremony.

The decision to eliminate the invocation from the TOSH graduation came after the school's principal, Jeff Clow, attended a recent provincial principals' meetings.

"Graduation was a topic of discussion," said Clow. "We all heard how each school plans out their ceremonies, what components they have."

The Summerside Presbyterian Church will host a service on Sunday for high school and other graduates celebrating the graduation transition.
The Summerside Presbyterian Church will host a service on Sunday for high school and other graduates celebrating the graduation transition.

 

Clow said some schools already don't have an invocation.

"Montague, for years, has offered an optional church service for grads who want to attend outside of their ceremony. Kinkora has an invocation at their banquet. We're just moving in the direction as the other schools."

In light of this, Clow said the school's graduation committee agreed to keep consistency with the other schools and take the short service out of the program.

Rev. Brad Blaikie, Summerside Presbyterian Church
Rev. Brad Blaikie, Summerside Presbyterian Church

Upon learning of the decision, Rev. Brad Blaikie of the Summerside Presbyterian Church, located across the street from the school, was left feeling disappointed.

"Given today's cultural climate, I can understand the decision. But to me prayer is important," said Blaikie. "I wasn't angry, but disappointed. I'd almost rather see graduations incorporate everyone's faith traditions, even those who don't have one. Because those graduates didn't get to that point of transition by themselves. They had their parents, friends and teachers help too."

Blaikie said after meeting with elders of the church's congregation, the group started brainstorming ways to provide that element of prayer and reflection outside of the convocation.

"There's something powerful about being prayed for or prayed over. There's something very moving about it, at least in my opinion."

As a result, the church is offering a dedicated church service on Sunday, June 16, with a graduation theme.Any student going through a graduation transition (high school, junior high, university, etc.), their families and other members of the public and congregation are invited to attend.

It's about a time of celebrating and giving thanks. So the best solution was to find an alternative and provide to our community and the school, said Blaikie.

"When people ask where our church is I say in behind the high school. And while I mean it literally, it also has a different meeting in that we want to support them and be 'behind' them."

For several years the church has hosted a Kraft Dinner lunch program which students from the school frequent.

"They're still popular. And we're their safe place to go to if something were to happen at the school," he said.

Clow commended the service the church was offering the students and the community.

"I think it's great. It's great to see the community have this service. It gives the chance to have an actual service, which is nice. It gives people the chance to participate a little bit more in-depth."

The service at the Summerside Presbyterian will begin at 10:30 a.m. June 16. All are welcome.


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