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Seminary’s meaning magnified

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The school year's here, and high schoolers are primed to make some memories. There will be games and dances, elections and performances. Probably not many, however, are clapping because a new year of LDS seminary scripture chases is around the corner.

And yet, as time glides by, sometimes those seminary memories become the most meaningful and poignant.

I think that's because religion — like romance and patriotism — is an affair of the heart. And when the human heart becomes engaged, deep impressions are often left. The heart has a better memory than the mind.

Our LDS seminary at Box Elder High in Brigham City had its own meaningful memories. President Boyd K. Packer and Elder A. Theodore Tuttle got it rolling, and many of the teachers from my era have gone on to be temple presidents, recognized writers and international LDS leaders.

It was a golden faculty.

My teacher as a senior was Lars Yorgason. He came by my house the first week of school and asked me to be the president of the class. He said he felt we had a class that could find some real "esprit de corps." I only heard the word "décor" and figured I'd be in charge of decorations.

I had a lot of learning still to do.

The seminary president, Randy Hall, was in our class and he kept a journal of the goings-on. He called it "The Jade of Rough Cut" (as opposed to "The Pearl of Great Price.") I learned another lesson there, too. If you want something to survive, write it down. That's a lesson that Muslims, Jews, Christians and other "People of the Book" learned thousands of years ago.

Our class had all the usual suspects, of course — the class clown, the resident wild child, the scholar and the scofflaw. I remember one especially heated discussion about which sins needed to be confessed to the bishop and which did not. I suspect that argument goes on today.

In the end we never did achieve that "esprit de corps" — that oneness of spirit — Brother Y. was hoping for. Much of that was my fault. I was more interested in being a live wire and wiseacre than I was in leading. The trait follows me to this day.

But I do remember many sweet moments in that class. It was the one place at school where kids spoke freely and honestly from the heart. It was, in the end, probably the most "real" class any of us took.

That's why, as the sporting events and social functions have faded, I can still remember the little moments that made a big difference.

And if I forget, well, I've got "The Jade of Rough Cut" to remind me.

Jerry Johnston is a Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in Mormon Times.

e-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com