TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Pomp and circumstance was evident at the New Providence Baptist Church in Tupelo Sunday afternoon as thirty graduates marched in the the traditional tune.
For these graduates, it was a chance to get words of wisdom and leaders in the community and hear some heartfelt singing as well.
The grads say this is one of the biggest times in their lives.
"I'm excited. I'm just overjoyed. I can't believe I finally got here," said Jordan Johnson, a Tupelo High School graduating senior.
"It feels amazing graduating, to know that all of our hard work has finally paid off and we're finally going to get to walk that stage this Friday. And just to be here at the baccalaureate service, that's great, too," said Kenya Ashby, also a Tupelo graduate.
The term baccaulaureate is used to describe a religious service held at a church or educational institution, usually on the Sunday before commencement day.
It's been a tradition at Park Hill for over thirty years, having been hosted at churches throughout the community.
"Look in the mirror and see that you are much more than what people tell you you are," said guest speaker Rev. Johnathan Bass of Mount Nebo in Baldwyn.
As he charged the students to be all that they can be in the future, there was one noticeable abscence at this year's service.
Retired teacher Susie Anne Owens was not on hand, having passed away only a few days earlier.
The late Ms. Owens still took time to plan the program even though she ultimately was not able to attend.
"It's sad to know that she is gone, but it's a great team here keeping her legacy going," said Johnson.
"That is really sad. She was a great woman, you know. She was like the main force behind this," Ashby said. "Even though she's not here, like they say, I know that she would want us to go on."