Hannah Stewart

Hannah Stewart, a graduating senior of La Cañada High School, read a scripture from the Qur'an and gave a testimonial on the importance of faith in her life June 3 at the Eighth Annual Interfaith Baccalaureate service at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church. (Courtesy of Nahid Akbarut / January 1, 2006)

More than 100 local graduating seniors congregated at La Cañada's St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church on June 3 to contemplate their faith at the Eighth Annual Interfaith Baccalaureate service.

The service welcomes youth from different schools, churches and religious affiliations in the community as they progress into adulthood and reflect on their lives so far, according to organizer Christie Frandsen.

In his opening remarks, La Cañada High School Principal Ian McFeat shared with students the importance of looking to the roots of their family and religious values as they also look forward to their futures.

The keynote speaker was Paul J. Kim, an Orange County international youth speaker, vocalist and beatboxer known for his faith in God through music and comedy in his inspirational presentations. Kim delivered a powerful message about every individual's capacity to make a difference in the world, Frandsen said.

Several graduates participated in the event, with Owen Gonzalez, Madelyn Merchant, Laurel Johnson and Hannah Stewart reading selected scriptures from the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Qur'an.

Stewart and fellow seniors Justin Cohen, Michelle Musso, Katherine Woodhouse and Talia Bernhard touched the crowd when they shared personal testimonies about their faith and how it's shaped their growth over the years.

Performances by members of La Cañada High Schools Chamber singers, who sang renditions of the "Hallelujah" and "Sure on This Shining Night," provided a musical backdrop for the evening, and the service was opened and closed with prayer readings by St. Bede's Msgr. Antonio Cacciapuoti and Levent Akbarut of the Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge.

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