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BY High alumni gather, remember beloved school

PROVO — When Julie Anderson Clark thinks back to high school, she immediately pictures her English teacher Anna B. Hart.

The white-haired woman always wore a brooch on her left lapel and carried her books close to her chest.

"She's the reason I do what I do," said Clark, who now teaches children's literature at BYU.

Memories of beloved teachers and former classmates came flooding back Friday as BY High alumni gathered in Provo for an all-class reunion.

Brigham Young Academy began in 1876 as a secondary school but eventually grew to include all grades, kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the BY High website.

In 1903, Brigham Young Academy was dissolved and replaced by Brigham Young University High School — in what is now the Provo City Library at Academy Square — and BYU.

Zola Rae Law Ash attended both BY High and BYU and still mourns the high school's closing in 1968.

"It was really hard on all of us when they dissolved it," said Ash, class of '44. "It wasn't the elegant high school our kids have now, but we had excellent teachers. (Today) we put too much emphasis on the quality of our building and not our teachers."

Alumni became emotional as they spoke of former teachers such as Hart and strict Julia Caine, who terrified most students but left lifelong impressions of dedication to teaching and students.

Small class sizes also meant everyone got to try everything, said Clark, who was in the last graduating class in 1968.

"I was a cheerleader, copy editor, in choir and band. I wasn't popular," she added with a smile. "But people got to shine."

Clark's husband, Dan, class of 1967, played on the football team — offense and defense.

"If (BY High) was still open, our children would (have gone) there," she said. "I really loved BY High. I miss BY High."

Since the early days, BY High graduates have spread across the world, whether serving in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, teaching school in Germany or working in Japan. They are lawyers, doctors, dentists, businessmen and women, LDS Church stake presidents, Relief Society presidents and even general authorities.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a member of the graduating class of 1950 and came to the reunion Friday with his wife, Kristen.

"How very grateful we are for BY High," Elder Oaks said, "for giving us rigorous and faithful teaching at that important part of our lives."

Reunion organizer Kent Broadhead said he plans to have another gathering in two years. A 1949 graduate, Broadhead spent his time at BY High playing basketball, winning the state championship in both 1948 and '49.

"My brothers and I say (high school) was the best three years of our life," he said.

For more information, visit www.byhigh.org.

e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com