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Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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New Utah trend? Grads plug Mormon missions at commencement

Hundreds of Bountiful High graduates lined up to receive their diplomas at the Regional Center in Woods Cross on Friday, many of whom have already received their LDS mission assignments since the minimum age went from 19 to 18 for young men.

As is the custom, graduating seniors wrote their names on a card to be read aloud as they crossed the stage. Apparently, dozens of young men added what appeared to be the place of their Mormon mission as a "middle name" – as in John "Russia" Doe and James "New York" Smith.

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By the end, perhaps 50 or more had done this, according to one parent in attendance.

Was this appropriate at a public high school, where many of the grads are not Mormon, or did it cross church-state lines?

Bountiful High’s vice principal, Alan Smith, said administrators knew nothing about the mission-as-middle-name tactic in advance and would not have approved it.

"It won’t be something we will do again," Smith said.

Chris Williams, a Davis School District spokesman, said the fake names were "inappropriate."

Some students might feel "ostracized for not being part of a group," Williams said. "Everyone should be treated equally. Our thought is that it should be a respectful ceremony where real names are read."

Salt Lake School District spokesman Jason Olsen said he hadn’t heard of "anything like that happening in the Salt Lake School District."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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