Then and Now

by Jayne Farrell

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    The poodle skirts are gone, but that seminary feeling lingers on.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    In 1950, early-morning seminary students wore bobby socks and poodle skirts. Today they’re more likely to wear jeans and T-shirts, and, in some cases, pajamas and fuzzy slippers! Teens in the early ’50s worried about the war in Korea. Today, Bosnia is on everyone’s mind.

    One thing hasn’t changed, though. In the many years since early-morning seminary began, students are still learning to love the gospel while they form lasting friendships with each other.

    One of the first seminary classes outside Utah was held in North Hollywood, California. Because of restrictions imposed by the local school board, it was decided that the class would be held early in the morning, before school started. Thus, a long-standing tradition began. That first class recently held a reunion. The things they remember about seminary include “learning great things about the gospel,” and “the wonderful feeling of family that we had with our seminary class.” They also reminisce about how much they loved going to seminary every day and being part of such an exciting new program.

    Seminary students in North Hollywood today remember things a little bit differently. Not enough years have gone by to erase the memories of waking up before the sun every day. But the feeling of “family” still remains a hallmark of the seminary program.

    “I think that when you see people at 6:00 A.M. day after day, it’s pretty hard to keep from getting to know them pretty well. It brings us closer together,” says 17-year-old Amber Modrell.

    Kevin Barton, 14, says that seminary has helped make him a better missionary.

    “It’s a challenge to go to school here because so many people have so many different beliefs, but I’ve learned so much in seminary that it’s easier to face people’s questions. Now I feel comfortable talking about the Church,” he says.

    Fads come and go. Seminary students of 45 years ago don’t listen to the same music, play the same kinds of games, or wear the same kinds of clothes as seminary students today. But they all have one thing in common. They know that the truths of the gospel do not change and that gaining gospel knowledge is worth losing a little sleep.

    Illustrated by Cary Henrie

    Photography by Richard M. Romney and courtesy Jean Sabin Groberg