By Stacy Johnson
Recognized as one of the largest early morning seminary programs in the Church, the Combs High School seminary will soon be housed in the first seminary building in San Tan Valley. Members of the Queen Creek East and Queen Creek North stakes call this a miracle—one that has been years in the planning.
Combs High School early morning seminary had its first class of freshman students in 2009. At that time, the two stakes within the high school boundaries, held their first early morning seminary class at the church building on Coyote Road, in the East Stake boundaries. The class had 31 students enrolled, and they met in the Primary room. Camron Howell, of the East Stake, and seminary principal for the last five years, remembers, “There was myself and three other teachers, and we each rotated a week of teaching. The week before we taught we would assist in the class and help the other instructor. This made it a perfect transition each week because the new teacher had the entire previous week to build upon.”
Each year, the enrollment increased; so, for the 2012-2013 school year 195 students enrolled, with an average of 170 attending daily. For the seven classes, 18 teachers, two volunteer hall monitors and six substitutes made up the faculty.
Originally, only the Primary and Relief Society rooms were used, then they moved into other classrooms, eventually needing to utilize the cultural hall as well. Trent Allen, was directly involved as a member of the Queen Creek East Stake high council.
He relates, “Our numbers were approaching 200, and we were outgrowing our building…we were soon to face teaching out of multiple buildings and calling and training many more teachers and hall monitors.”
The Church had been exploring options for a seminary building for many years. Stake members were reminded to fast and pray often that one would be built.
Brother Allen recalls, “After dead ends looking at the north, south, and east side of the school, under the priesthood keys of Ernest Laws, Stake President of the Queen Creek East Stake, the focus changed to the west side of the property in January of 2012. After this inspired direction, many pieces of the property and building fell into place. Ground was broken in April 2013 and will be finished in the middle of July 2013.”
He adds, “They will have a place adjacent to Combs High School that symbolizes a place of protection, peace, love and rest.”
Brother Allen will move from the Mesa Community College Institute over to the newly built seminary building. The students will have two fulltime seminary teachers to serve them, as Brother Rupp will transfer to Combs from the nearby Queen Creek High School.
Chevaun Craven, Stake Relief Society President in the Queen Creek North Stake, Ironwood Crossing Ward, says, “Although early morning seminary is an amazing way for teenagers to start their day, release time will allow most of the teens to have a ‘recharging’ period in their day. I’m very excited for this amazing opportunity for our kids.”