The annual Columbia High School Baccalaureate will be held on Wednesday, June 5, in the Columbia High School auditorium at 7 p.m.
All CHS graduates, their families and friends are invited to attend.
The Baccalaureate service precedes the graduation ceremonies by three days and affords the members of the graduating class the opportunity to attend a nondenominational service in cap and gown. Although it is a voluntary function, it has become a valued tradition at the high school.
Graduating seniors share in leading the Baccalaureate prayers, readings and music with members of the local clergy, who sponsor the event.
The featured speaker this year is Austin Bell, a 1989 graduate of Columbia High. While at CHS, he was a member of the student council, lettered all four years in football, and was on the track team. He married former CHS student Denise Reese in 1990 and went on to Portland State University, graduating in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration.
He is presently employed as a draftsman and project manager with his family's firm -- Bell Design Company of Bingen.
Austin and Denise have two children, Renee and Isaac.
In 1996, Austin and his family began Mid-Columbia Ministries, a ministry to youth in the Bingen-White Salmon area.
Each year, the Ministries sponsor the Story Time in the Park, the River Bash, the Festival of Lights, and the Bingen Park Easter Egg Hunt.
In 1999, Austin and Ray Kempf co-founded CRUX Fellowship, a worship community in Bingen. For the past 10 years, Austin has exercised a youth ministry for high school and college students.
His Baccalaureate topic is "The Mystical You."
The public is invited to hear Austin Bell and to help celebrate the Baccalaureate with the seniors of Columbia High School on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. in the school gym.