Granite Seminary: Ppanking new building now stands where first classes were held in 1912

Students who attended classes last year at the Church's oldest seminary building came back to school this week in one of the newest seminary buildings.

The old Granite seminary building, which began housing classes after the seminary program began in 1912, was in use for 81 years until it was demolished last April. A new building was constructed on the same site this summer.Since the seminary program began, it has grown from a handful of students to an estimated 300,000, of whom about 121,000 attend released-time classes during school hours, and 145,000 others throughout the world attend early morning seminary classes. In addition, some 40,000 participate in seminary home study.

About 155,000 college-aged students and adults worldwide are expected to attend institute classes this year.

Just under 400 students are enrolled at the Granite seminary this year. LDS students make up a little more than half the student body, and about two-thirds of the LDS students are enrolled.

When seminary started in 1912, students first met in the Granite Stake Tabernacle. As the popularity of the program increased, a diminutive two-classroom frame building was erected. This was later expanded with two add-ons. It was difficult to heat and cool.

No one was disappointed to see the building replaced.

The new brick building has four classrooms and an operable (moveable) wall between two rooms that opens to create a large assembly room. Each of six teachers has an office. A work room houses software, audio-visual materials and an up-to-date sound system. Five major closets provide ample storage space. Upstairs are the furnaces and air conditioning units.

"We're ready to start," said seminary principal Richard C. Russell.

Brother Russell explained that they moved out of the old building April 15 and by noon the next day, the structure had been leveled. Until school was out, classes were held in a nearby meetinghouse or in two trailers on the site. When school ended, one trailer was removed. About mid-summer, the landscapers asked the seminary staff to have the other trailer removed.

"From then on, the staff, who work through the summer, just lived out of suitcases," the seminary principal said. "If anybody asked me for anything, my standard answer was: `It's in a box. The answer worked pretty good."

Then, on Aug. 17, the keys to the new structure were turned over to the seminary, and moving in began.

The principal said students and other volunteers helped in the major project of moving in. An open house, attended by about 550 people, was held Aug. 29. Books no longer in the seminary curriculum were given away as mementoes to those who visited.

The desks, the final pieces of equipment needed to furnish the new building, arrived during the first school day. During each period that day, the students were seated on folding chairs for assemblies anyway, so it worked out just fine, Brother Russell said.

"The students were amazed at the new building," he said. "This building is really inviting. In fact, last year the students ate lunch here and just hung out. But this year they voted not to have food in the new building. It's just too nice."

He expects reverence to be enhanced by the new facilities. "The self-esteem of the students was raised; their feeling of their own worth and value is increased because the Church provided this building for them. It's been appreciated, and it will be appreciated even more."

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