Seminary on Campus

Brooke Hester, Staff

Students at Highland have been wanting to know what it is about Seminary that makes Mormons want to go? Principal Melinda Murphy talks about the importance of our seminary building saying, “We have seminary because the state statute allows us to provide what they call ‘release time’. It can be used for any type of instruction.                                                         

All across the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has established Seminary buildings for mormon students to acquire extra time learning about their religion at school. Currently, there are only seminary buildings next to a school in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. In all of the other states, for how large the population is of LDS students is, they aren’t provided with the same release time to go and attend seminary during school. Non-LDS students have been complaining about how Mormon students get to leave campus for an hour but in reality, those students that leave have to make up that hour they miss of school by likely taking A-hour or not having a lunch.

In order to have seminary, the church has to buy private land near or next to the high school so that it can be an easy walking distance. Many people wonder why other religions such as the Jewish, Catholic, Christians, etc. Don’t have the same release time at school.  Mainly since any religious teaching can’t conflict with the church/ state ruling, there has to be a private land owned by that church so that the public school isn’t offering a religious class for just one group.

Teachers at the Seminary building like to joke and say that the seminary students aren’t really leaving “school” because students there learn social studies, math, english, and science all in one hour.

Mr. Larsen, one of the Seminary teachers, says, “When the school agreed that they would release students, they have to have parents permission. Secondly, they are leaving campus and going on a private property to get religious education and third, students are sacrificing an hour in their school day and don’t get any credit for attending seminary.” Larsen identifies some of the main reasons that attending Seminary is both legal and a right students have.  The first amendment of the Constitution ensures that students have the right to freedom of religion.  

So, what is Seminary?  Quite simply, it is instruction in religious doctrine and is a welcoming environment to anyone that wants to come.  Brooklyn Breinholt, a student that attends seminary, says “It is beneficial because I get an hour of my day everyday that I get to focus on just the gospel… I like that the people in the class are really nice and friendly and actually talk to you”.