Sunnyside Baptist Church to host Sullivan County baccalaureate service

Rick Wagner • May 13, 2019 at 3:30 PM

INDIAN SPRINGS — Sullivan County’s 22nd baccalaureate ceremony for graduating high school seniors is set for Tuesday at Sunnyside Baptist Church in the Cooks Valley area, just east of Kingsport.

The event at 406 Cooks Valley Road will include a ceremony in which representatives of the graduates merge colored marbles to represent their passage from students who competed academically and athletically with one another to coming together to become part of the community, explained Brandy Kisner of Indian Springs Baptist Church. She serves on the committee for the baccalaureate. The event last year was at Colonial Heights Baptist Church.

Tuesday’s event is to start at 7 p.m., with graduates attending asked to arrive wearing their caps and gowns at 6:15 p.m. Sunnyside, Indian Springs Baptist and Cassidy, Salem and Blountville United Methodist churches are holding the event, open to the graduates and their families. Kisner said students are asked not to wear honors cords, just their caps and gowns.

Each school class or group will have a representative. In addition, speakers are to be Scottie Dancy, area director of Youth Life of Kingsport, and Maci Cloninger, a Sullivan Central High senior whose father, a coach and teacher at Central, died in late 2017. Maci is going to attend Milligan College, where she will run cross country and track. The band Adoration is to provide music.

The unity ceremony of the Sullivan County baccalaureate uses marbles to represent each student in the color of the his or her school or group. The marbles will be combined in one jar after each school’s or group’s candles are lit.

All graduating high school seniors in Sullivan County are welcome, including those from Sullivan South, North, Central and East; Dobyns-Benentt; Tennessee High; Tri-Cities Christian; and homeschooled students.

Last year, Kisner said, about 300 people attended the ceremony, including about 100 to 150 seniors.

She said the ceremony is expected to last about an hour and a half with a reception including light snacks afterward. 

The event almost ended in 2018 before the Rev. Lewis Kizer of Salem UMC moved to keep it going after reading on Facebook it had been cancelled because of a lack of interest in organizing it. 


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