Choosing Missions Over Graduation Ceremonies

Taylor Hart’s high-school yearbook will likely have a few more blank pages than those of his classmates.

That’s because he won’t be around the last day of school to gather yearbook signatures. He’ll have left to begin training for his Mormon mission in Portugal.

"I’ve always liked to just move on to the next phase of my life, and this is the next phase for me," said Hart, who graduated early from Taylorsville High so he could leave for his two-year mission in mid-April.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t track how many young men choose to graduate early from high school to go on missions. But teachers and counselors across Utah report at least a few here and there who decided to take the leap this year and last after LDS leaders lowered the age at which men may go on missions to 18 from 19. The church requires missionaries to have high-school diplomas.

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