REXBURG, Idaho — In the quiet hours of the morning, while many people were rushing off to work to start their busy lifestyles, 2,189 individuals from all over the United States and Canada were listening to inspirational instructors on the BYU-Idaho campus during the annual Education Week.
Commencing on July 29, this three-day event offered the opportunity for individuals to attend more than 300 lectures from more than 40 religious scholars of all walks of life. While many of the scholars are BYU and BYU-Idaho professors, as well as instructors in the Church Educational System, a few were concert pianists, business owners, writers and professional speakers.
But what many considered the greatest aspect of the event was the quiet, easygoing atmosphere. With the longest distance from one classroom to another achievable in five minutes, the 20-minute allotted time allowed for a pleasant atmosphere.
"The relaxed atmosphere helps produce a spirit of calmness — a spirit of learning. Where when we're rushed, trying to get from place to place, sometimes we miss those opportunities," said Alan Young, director of Education Week.
The event took place in the upper building of campus where those in attendance could stroll through the Thomas E. Ricks Memorial Gardens on their way to class and have a clear view of the Rexburg Temple wherever they roamed.
"As they walk from class to class, from building to building, they can see the temple, and hopefully that gives them some focus on what we are really doing here," Young said. "They can walk to the temple if they choose to. If they want to take an hour, instead of going to class, they can go to the temple to do initiatories or baptisms. And they can do that and be right back for the next class if they choose to."
And many of those who attended Education Week did just that. Michelle Hammer, an attendee from Rigby, Idaho, went to the temple Saturday morning with her mother and sisters and felt that it enhanced her learning that day.
"I think it did because a lot of the classes are focused on church aspects and when you go back to do an endowment, you listen to different things and pick up more," Hammer said.
Another unique aspect the BYU-Idaho Education Week offered was the track system — not the semester track system but the Youth Track and the Mom's Track.
The Youth Track offered classes for youths in attendance. As an effort to encourage more youths to come with their parents, Young organized a round-robin game event, an ice cream social and a dance to entertain the youths while their parents attended classes or concerts.
The Mom's Track was introduced this year as an opportunity for mothers to attend classes specifically focused on mothers, who were allowed to bring their babies to the specified classes in the Thomas E. Ricks building.
"When they have a nursing baby, they're kind of excluded from coming, but now we want to include them. We want them to feel welcome here," Young said. "Here we have all of these sisters that are in the same stage of life, dealing with the same problems. Now they can get together and have somebody to talk to about what's going on … and they can learn from each other."
After 13 years of hosting Education Week, the BYU-Idaho campus continued to offer those who attended a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. Instructors Doug and Laura Debenham commented on how wonderful the atmosphere really was.
"It's kind of like the best kept secret with the intimate atmosphere and cooler temperatures," Laura said.