With more than 1,000 classes on a variety of topics held over a five-day span, thousands of people from around the world gathered to the Brigham Young University campus to “have a rewarding and uplifting experience” during the annual education week.
This year marks the 95th anniversary of the annual conference, which draws people of all ages and backgrounds to the Provo campus each year. Youth age 14 and older are able to participate in a youth track of classes and activities.
"Before the conference began we had 12,000 [participants] registered," said H. Bruce Payne, Education Week program administrator. "I anticipate that we will end up somewhere just under 19,000."
People from more than a dozen countries — located on four continents — and 49 states are registered.
This year’s conference theme comes from the Doctrine and Covenenants 50:24, “He that receiveth light and continueth in God receiveth more light.”
"We look to see what some of the issues that are going on in the world are when we are choosing the theme each year," Payne said. "'That continueth in God' is what struck me — here we are in these days where there are so many different things that are trying to distract and pull the focus away from living the gospel."
Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke during the Tuesday devotional. He titled his remarks, “Be responsible.”
Although much of the conference is the same as previous years, this year has a few additions, including opportunities to attend BYU athletic events, tours of the university's exhibits displayed at the museum of art and a tour of the recently rennovated Missionary Training Center.
"There were 7,000 tickets distributed to take the tours [of the MTC] in these three days," Payne said.
With more than half of the classes focused on a religious topic, 32 percent of instructors come from BYU faculty and LDS Seminary and Institute faculty. More than half of the instructors are experts and professional faculty for mother institutions and professions.
"We have so many different topics — finance, parenting, gospel topics, self improvement, marriage relations — you name it," Payne said.
For Mary and Randy Formanek, who are from Spring Valley, California, attending Education Week has become a tradition after attending the last 15 years.
“We come here and enjoy the environment — it really builds your testimony,” Randy said. “We take all these notes and then have all of the information in our head. It comes in handy when teaching lessons.”
For the couple, the tour through the Provo Missionary Training Center has been a highlight of this year’s conference. They both had a brief stay at the MTC before they served their missions in the 1980s.
“I saw my friend had posted a video about the open house and I said ‘We have to do this,'” Mary said. “When we walked into the MTC it brought back so many memories — especially the feeling I had when walking in the foyer.”
Randy added, “We took a picture in front of the map. It was fun to see where the missionaries are now, and to point out things we remember.”
The couple’s daughter, Clarissa Ludlow, who lives in Saratoga Springs, Utah, said right as they were walking through the hallway in one of the buildings they heard a chorus of “Called to Serve.”
“Their timing was perfect,” she said. “It’s like they were singing just for us.”
For David Heiner from Highland, Utah, visiting Education Week has become a tradition for the past 20 years.
“My wife and I celebrate our anniversary each year here at Education Week,” he said. “We have been coming for probably 20 years.”
Although the couple had a four-year break due to serving missions, they are delighted to be back to enjoy the instruction and learning.
“I love coming here for personal development,” Heiner said. “We can come and learn how to work on our weaknesses and struggles, and I can work on things I want to acquire. Some I have learned in the past but need a reminder.”
For Patricia Riggs, from Sandy, Utah, attending Education Week with her 17-year-old son, Hans, has been an opportunity for the two to learn together.
“He starts school on Wednesday, so we are here for the first two days,” she said. “We attended youth classes together, and we have learned spiritual ways and temporal ways to strengthen ourselves, our family and community.”
Evening entertainment for visitors included a production of "Brigadoon" and performances by Dallyn Vail Bayles, Sandra Turley and the American Piano Quartet.