NORMAN — A high school student, a member of the drumline, a Boy Scout, a son and a brother.
Zachary Corless, a Norman North junior, is all of these. But he’s also one of about 100 high schoolers from Ardmore to Norman who is a seminary student.
Seminary is a worldwide, four-year religious educational program for youth ages 14 through 18 that’s operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but is open to teenagers of all faiths.
Corless arrives at his local church building on the corner of Imhoff and State Highway 9 in time for his 6 a.m. class every weekday.
An adult volunteer from the local congregation teaches Corless and five to 10 others a 50-minute lesson based on teachings found in this year’s topic of study, the Book of Mormon.
“I like getting up in the mornings and hanging out with my friends, studying the gospel and learning about Christ,” Corless said.
According to the Church’s seminary website, the purpose of seminary is to “help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple and prepare themselves, their families and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.”
While a teacher is present, the young men and women are encouraged to lead discussions surrounding the day’s topic and to express how the teaching has helped in his or her everyday life. Topics can range from how to increase faith to the eternal nature of the family or the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Students also are encouraged to memorize 100 scripture references over the course of the four-year program. If participation is satisfactory following a student’s senior year, he or she participates in a seminary graduation.
Jenny Gowens converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she was 15 years old after attending seminary with a friend. Now the area seminary supervisor, Gowens expressed how seminary affects the young people who attend.