While many teens consider 6:20 a.m. as a great time to sleep, there are 14 high school students who consider it an opportune time for Bible study.
These students get up daily before school to meet at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for morning seminary classes. The classes include prayers, scripture readings, and question-and-answer segments where students are rewarded for correct answers with treats.
“It’s basically a Bible study class but we call it seminary,” said church bishop Tim Hitchcock. “Being in seminary is a big thing for these kids because they don’t get to start until they’re in high school. It’s a way for these young people to begin each day on a bright spiritual note.”
Church member Michael Weeter teaches the classes which require him to get up bright and early before school. Some students said they wake up as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to make it to class on time.
Weeter says he likes to start each class by having one student read a scripture verse he or she likes. On Tuesday morning, the group was immersed in a study of Hebrews in the New Testament with each taking a turn reading a verse.
“This is something I enjoy doing as part of the church,” said Weeter, who serves on a volunteer basis.
Added Hitchcock, “It’s a calling in the church and right now it’s Michael’s time to serve the church in this way.”
In order to pass seminary, students have to attend at least 80 percent of the classes. When asked how many classes that allows a person to miss, Bryce Caten was quick to answer.
“That’s one class a week,” he said.
While Bryce may have missed a few seminary classes here and there, Hitchcock pointed out that his dad, Brian Caten, had perfect attendance in four years of seminary.
The seminary classes are composed mainly of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although students from other denominations are welcome, such as Corteney Krickel who currently attends.
Hitchcock invites any high school student interested in studying scripture.
“Or, if any church would like some pointers about how to set up a program like this on their own, we’d be more than happy to help,” said Hitchcock.
Students said getting up early can be hard, but what they’re learning makes it worthwhile.
“I’m not drowsy too often,” said student Gabrielle Vazquez.
Added student Katherine Hitchcock, “This is definitely worth the sacrifice of sleep.”
Seminary class members include Ella Hale, Madison Weeter, Katherine Hitchcock, Cristhian Lopez, Cole Millard, Bryce Caten, Graham Pennington, Luis Lopez, James Sweet, Gabrielle Vazquez, Jazmine Sweet, Alyson Caten, Corteney Krickel and Cheyenne Conover.