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LDS seminary to adapt to college-prep plan

LDS Church officials have agreed to accommodate -- if not support -- Canyons School District in its quest to boost high school graduation requirements.

Canyons Superintendent David Doty met with church officials last month to allay fears that cramming more math, science and English into the school year would squeeze out electives, such as religious instruction at Mormon seminaries.

Doty said seminary leaders warmed to his idea for a career-and-college-ready diploma, which he stressed would be voluntary and flexible, leaving ample time for seminary. The take-home message was, "Don't worry. We'll adapt," said Doty, who was assured that if necessary, the church will expand its before- and after-school offerings.

Currently, most of the 84,433 Utah students enrolled in seminary are released for a class period each day.

Their religious instruction is provided off campus in a church-owned building, and does not count toward their graduation.

But it does consume seat time and up to four elective credits.

In other states and countries, LDS seminary is almost exclusively offered outside of school hours at a local church or home.

But the released-time model remains popular in Utah. The church has been teaching seminary since 1912. Worldwide, enrollment has doubled since the 1970s with Utah accounting for nearly 23 percent of the church's 361,993 students, according to a 2009 annual report published by the Church Educational System.

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