BYH Recollections
A to K

Brigham Young High School Recollections

Send in your favorite stories about your BYH days for this webpage today. Start out by saying, "I remember..." and the rest is easy. We welcome your experiences in all subjects -- even on subjects where someone has already written something.

A - Brigham Young Academy

Anna B. Hart

I read Anna's Bookshelves. I know I am an emotional person, but the story really touched me. I remember "Anna" teaching me Literature. Most of my class members were not very interested in Literature. I found the subject fascinating. I remember her quiet patience, and the inflection she used when she read the Classics to us. She survived many "rolled eyes", and took it all in stride.

I think she inspired me to be a better communicator and writer. I am not at all surprised that her old house was full of bookshelves. I can personally testify to her love for literature. She was truly a teacher who helped BY High School to be a uniquely fulfilling experience for its students. ~~Kent Jarvis '60

B - Brigham Young High School Beehive

The Beehive

I've tried to imagine what it meant for a student from rural Utah, Idaho, or Arizona to take a train to a small town like Provo and then walk up University Avenue.

Most of our pioneer towns had quite remarkable meeting houses, a small number had stake academies, and there were impressive county buildings in the county seats. But few could claim an impressive educational complex like the lower campus. Students whose parents had instilled a hunger for learning must have felt like they had arrived at an educational banquet.

I suspect that one of the first things a student would have noticed about the academy complex was the old beehive fountain, built in about 1913, for this symbol of industry was a clear link between BYU and its supporting community.

Well before the time I was a B.Y. High student, the beehive fountain had ceased flowing, but it seemed still to represent the ties we had with the past. Although we indulged in few philosophical reflections at the beehive (we were most excited when college homecoming queens came there to have their pictures taken), its presence in front of the old buildings was an emblem that transcended generations and tied our school to our culture. That culture placed more emphasis on education than any other culture in the West. ~~Todd Britsch '55

Photo by Daniel Vineyard

The Buildings

Anyone driving down Provo's University Avenue cannot help but be impressed with the Academy Building's almost literal rise from the ashes.

But for those of us whose lives were shaped and directed there, the restored Academy Building evokes rich and plentiful memories of a time long past.

Although it is now hard to separate the imagined from the real, to us this was a place of dreams, where our aspirations became fixed and where learning almost always seemed natural and inviting.

The old buildings located at the square gave us a link both to founding experiences of the past and to the emerging greatness of the university. This link was so strong, in fact, that some of us never could leave the school we learned to love there (thus three of four recent BYU academic vice presidents were B.Y. High graduates).

A good number of my classmates at B.Y. High went from kindergarten through their bachelor's degrees in schools that were part of BYU. I was a relative latecomer, entering the Training School in the fourth grade.

Because of the long association so many of us had with the school, the announcement that BYU would close its K–12 operation in the late 1960s came as a shock, and the subsequent sale in 1975 and crumbling of the buildings wrote a sad epitaph to a location that was once the vibrant center of a unique educational venture.

While we were students there, even the rather run-down character of many of the buildings added a surprising patina to all that we experienced, and the light filtering through the tall trees, especially in autumn, created a soft radiance in the place that we never forgot. ~~Todd Britsch '55

C - Carrells at BYH

The Carrells

Several educational experiments were launched at BY High in the early 1960s. They involved reorganizing some curriculum to focus on individual rather than group learning.

This was introduced to the students as the "Go at your own pace" system. Two parts of this experiment were a "carrel study system" and a relatively short-lived Daily Demand Computer Scheduling (DDCS).

The second floor of the Arts building was gutted and replaced with a large study area filled with rows and rows of individual work stations called "carrels."

Students were given a certain amount of work in published workbooks, and required to complete it in a given number of months. Each carrel came with a switch which activated a light on top of the carrel. When a student decided he or she needed help, they switched on their light. Teachers were available, and came fairly quickly to quietly explain things when the published workbooks were confusing.

When a student completed a section and felt they understood the content, they requested a test. If they failed the test, they went back to review the unit. If they passed the test, they went forward to the next unit. Some students were able to progress and complete multiple courses. Students who fell behind the required pace were given the option to repeat, or finish the course by BYU Home Study Course.

The curriculum designers postulated that "independent students" would progress faster, and that "dependent students" would probably struggle. After some time passed, we were all surprised to learn that the opposite was true. "Independent students" rebelled at rigidity of the texts, the boredom of isolation, the lack of teacher-led classroom discussions, and the lack of alternative paths, while "dependent students" loved the cocoon provided by the closed system and its predictable outcomes. ~~Donna Lee Turley, BYH Guidance Counselor, 1962 to 1968

Brigham Young High School Carrells 1
BYH Carrells, 1963-1964

More on the Carrells

When trying to share high school memories with my children, I tried to explain how the carrell system worked. I could never tell them without laughing. I always had to pull a BYH yearbook from the shelf so they could see and better understand.

All the silly antics sure made learning fun. I remember Jerry Hintze sitting in the carrell next to me. I was slowly working my way through algebra and geometry, but I could hear him just whipping through the pages. How discouraging for me but great for him.

Over the years when I have reflected back on my growing up years, I have attributed my strength and testimony of the gospel to the years I attended BY High. Finishing my last two years in a public high school in California helped me realize how much BY High has done for me. Thanks for remembering me! ~~Darlene Koralewski Brown '65
Brigham Young High School Carrells 2
More Carrells, 1963-1964

The Catacombs

The most special places on lower campus, however, were those hidden completely from view.

I never had quite enough courage to explore the heating vents that linked the buildings underground, but my companions described the experience in much the same way 19th-century novelists narrated daring escapes through the sewers of Paris. (I expect that most of these adventures were made of whole cloth, but our explorers made most of us believe that there were great mysteries here.)

It did, however, have several labs in the space pushed out under the asphalt from the main science room. These spaces were universally called the "catacombs," and if we were particularly successful with our concoctions, we could approximate the smells of the catacombs' Roman namesakes.

These labs were small and inadequate by any modern standards, but I've recently wondered if Paul D. Boyer, BYU '39, the BYU-educated Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, might have mixed his chemicals there. It is very likely.

One certain thing is that Philo T. Farnsworth, BYH '24, BYU '27, used space in the Education Building to undertake some of the early experiments that would later lead him to the invention of television.

And when I think of Farnsworth and Boyer, along with a myriad of university presidents, scientists, political leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, musicians, Church leaders, and outstanding parents who received part or all of their training at the lower campus, I've wondered what special things were at work in this small, out-of-the-way institution.

Somehow, the little college located mostly on the lower campus contributed far more than its expected proportion of outstanding graduates. ~~Todd Britsch '55

The Catwalk

I loved the catwalk. Every time we crossed it I wondered if it would hold us up. ~~Kristine Johnson Lee '65

I remember how much fun it was to stomp our way across the catwalk making as much noise as possible. ~~Darlene Koralewski Brown '65

There was a time when the ladies were too modest to climb the long stairs in the Arts Building because in so doing their ankles showed beneath their floor-length skirts, much to the glee of the over-aged elementary boys who hung around the lower halls to watch the event. The catwalk which connects the Education and the Arts buildings was the answer to this embarrassing situation. ~~Dr. Morris A. Shirts, Principal 1954-1956
BY High Arts Building - catwalk visible
Catwalk in background, 1953
Interior view of BY High catwalk
Interior, 1965

Championship Basketball

When we graduated to the seventh grade we got to walk the halls with the tall and handsome basketball players. Basketball was big at B.Y. High. Even though our enrollment was small, we played as well as the bigger schools in the region.

I remember when the Wildcats won the state tournament. My family drove us to Salt Lake City for the championship game. I remember the smell of the sawdust on the inside track of the fieldhouse on the U of U campus. I don't remember whom we played, but I do remember the final score, 58–51.

Almost everyone from BY High stopped and had ice cream at Snelgroves afterward to celebrate. ~~Marilynn Monson Ricks '67

John W. Gardner, Brigham Young High School '66
John W. Gardner ' 66

Chess Club

Over the decades, Brigham Young High School often had a Chess Club, but when I was an undergraduate at BYH, I noticed that we did not have one, and decided to organize one. Our chess club soon included a fair number of members, and those who joined liked to play often.

One of our members was John Gardner '66. Since our names were together alphabetically we sat together in some of our classes. We played chess in seminary class by passing a portable chessboard back and forth.

Our seminary class was taught that year by Bro. Wallace Montague, a very large man who was particularly authoritarian. I recall he made us memorize hymns -- all of the verses -- but he let us pick the five we would memorize. So John and I got together and picked the five shortest hymns that were also mostly chorus -- thus minimizing the amount of memorization. He caught on to what we were doing and didn't like it, but he had already announced the rules, and because we had conformed to them there was nothing he could do.

Bro. Montague caught us playing chess in his class early in the semester. He confiscated the expensive portable chess board that John had received for Christmas. (John finally got it back after several months by stealing it back from the bottom drawer of Mr. Montague's desk.) After the chess board was confiscated we continued to play chess by drawing a board grid on an index card in pen, moving the pieces in pencil, and passing the card back and forth.

That seminary room was especially set up so that religious education student teachers at BYU could observe the class while it was in session, without disrupting it. To make this possible, one side of the classroom featured a large one-way mirror. In the office behind the mirror, student teachers and their teachers came and went unnoticed.

We all knew about the mirror, but paid no attention to it. However, we were careful to pass the card back and forth when Bro. Montague was not looking. One day a group of student teachers observed our chess-game note passing. When they reported this to Bro. Montague, he was mortified.

Montague confronted us individually. He said that if he caught us doing that again, he would flunk us. I apologized and promised it wouldn't happen again. I eventually got an "A" in the class. John, on the other hand, responded to the threat by saying, "Go ahead!"

John later got in more trouble with Mr. Montague, when he filled in blanks on a Church History exam with inappropriate church history names, like "David O. McKay", when he didn't remember an answer. John's argument was that it was his policy to never leave an unanswered question on an exam. Bro. Montague decided that this was disrespectful, and informed our principal that, in his opinion, John should attend a public high school where seminary was not required (i.e., that he be kicked out of BYH).

Fortunately our principal, Mr. Lowell Thomson, was very understanding and worked things out so John could continue in class, and he eventually passed Bro. Montague's seminary class, too. By the way, John left BYH to take university classes at BYU after Christmas during his Senior year, but he came back to receive his BYH diploma at graduation. ~~Rick Gunn Suarez '66

Christmas wreath

Christmas Traditions

As Christmas approached each year, we all got light-hearted and light-headed. Visions of sugar plums danced in our heads. I just kind of liked it when the whole school would go to the College Hall auditorium and watch "It's A Wonderful Life" -- that famous old Christmas movie. Then that was it; we went home and had a few weeks of leisure. That's something you just don't get anymore. ~~Steve Thoresen '66

The Closing

I left one year before it was announced that BY High would be closed, on a sabbatical leave to attend the University of Texas at Austin.

Before I left I requested a personal interview with three people: the Director of the Lab School (BY High), the Dean of the College of Education, and the Academic Vice-President of BYU, all of whom were in the chain of command involving BY High.

I sought assurance from them that BY High would not be closed and that I could continue to teach there after doctoral studies at Texas. All three said the crisis over whether or not BY High would be closed as had been rumored, was over, and that firm decisions had been made assuring its future existence.

I took it as a personal blow in December of 1967 when I was called from a class and summoned to the University of Texas College of Education office where I was instructed to get in touch with BYU officials immediately. Dr. Glen Ovard took my returned call and said he was notifying me that the next day the announcement would be officially made public that BY High was to be closed.

On paper BYU transferred me to the College of Education with the rank of Instructor, and carried me on leave for two more years hoping that I would return as a faculty member. Other opportunities became available which BYU could not match, so that was the end of my association with BYU. I am retired but currently serve as an adjunct professor of Spanish at Mesa Community College in Mesa Arizona. ~~Rex Arnett, BYH Spanish Language Teacher, 1962 to 1966.

Newspaper article re: possible BY High demolition

More on the Closing

I came back to BYU High [from sabbatical leave in Africa] thinking: I have heard the expression, "I want to always want and I don't want to be satisfied with being satisfied," or some like expression, but I was perfectly happy here.

I love the school, the administrators, who were my personal friends, Lowell Thompson and Wallace Allred. I love the students, and I love Provo and my home on the hill. What more could one ask?

Everything seemed to be going fine, and then one Friday morning, December 8, 1967, we met in a special 7 a.m. faculty meeting along with the Elementary School faculty.

At this meeting, we were told that the BYU High School would be closed permanently at the end of the present school year, 1967-68. Some of the faculty were in tears, and others horrified at the prospect of trying to find another job.

Later in the afternoon, a special assembly of students was held in which they were informed of the closure. Again, many students were in tears, some of them having attended the school from kindergarten to their high school years. ~~Verl P. Allman, BYH Science Teacher, 1950 to 1968.

College Hall

A variety of educational activities took place on lower campus when I first went there in the years following World War II. The high school, originally an important part of Brigham Young Academy, was by then a relatively small laboratory school.

Although the junior high was supposedly separate, grades seven through 12 shared facilities, went to assemblies and games together, and were, for most purposes, the same school. There was also a good deal of room sharing with those parts of the university that remained down below--much of the Music Department, some education classes, home economics, and a variety of others.

As buildings were added to the upper campus, however, the high school took over more and more of the Education Building, until only College Hall housed any part of the university.

College Hall was connected directly to the Education Building. It was completed in 1898, only six years after the dedication of its companion), and it is impossible to think of them as separate. These two buildings housed many treasures.

Perhaps my earliest memory of this area was of the wonderful glass cabinet that contained exotic fauna collected in Central America by BYA president Benjamin Cluff Jr.'s expedition, which set out in 1900 to discover the city of Zarahemla.

Although the large snake was the most exciting creature in the case, we had the most fun trying to locate a tiny bird hidden among the flora. (For a number of years, before our chapel was built, our ward had its meetings in College Hall.

I liked to be the one to take my little brother out of sacrament meeting because the display could keep me occupied for a long time.

BY High College Hall Stage 1953-1954
College Hall Stage, 1953-1954

Although most performances of university and guest musicians had been moved to the Joseph Smith Building before I started attending concerts at BYU, College Hall was still the site of my first opera (Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, if I remember correctly), and it was the place we held assemblies, performed plays, and formed the B.Y. High community. Its stage remains fixed in my memory as a place of many exciting events. ~~Todd Britsch '55

Compton's Law

I came to BYU as a teacher both at the High School and at the University, and taught in the BY Academy building from 1953 to 1956.

When I entered the classroom to begin my first class as a teacher at the High School, I was met at the door by two students. One of them asked, "Are you our new chemistry teacher?" I replied, "Yes, I am." The student said, "The last two chemistry teachers lasted only one year each." Then he asked, "How long do you think you'll last?"

It didn't take long to be tested. When the bell rang ending the class, all the boys jumped up in unison onto the laboratory desks located underneath the open windows on two sides of the room. They had the obvious intention of exiting through the windows.

There wasn't time for me to think -- two more seconds and they would be through the windows, and I would be well on my way to becoming another one-year teacher. I reacted instantly and shouted, "Anybody who goes through that window, will never again come through that door!"

It worked. They all got down from the lab desks and went out the door. Fortunately, I was not another one-year teacher, and I learned that they were just a bunch of fun-loving teenagers! ~~Lane A. Compton, BYH Faculty 1953-1956

Lane Compton, former BYH teacher and retired BYU professor, has volunteered for eight years, up to 20 hours a week, at two elementary schools in Davis District. Among other honors, he is a former Science Educator of the Year, and former chair of the Rocky Mountain Science Council.

But to everyone in Stewart Elementary — from teachers to secretaries to students — Compton is known simply as "Grandpa." He has become an integral part of the curriculum of first-grade teacher Janet Compton Hatch [BYH Class of 1964]. Compton doesn't take the term grandpa lightly — he jokes and laughs with students but expects a lot from them.
Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret M. News, 2003
Lane Compton pictured teaching in 2003.

Concoction Blow-Back

Our chemistry class, under Loren C. Bryner, was conducting experiments with a variety of chemicals. Dr. Bryner had repeatedly warned us to Never pour the water on top of the acid which we were diluting.

I looked up just in time to see one of the girls, a lovely and very popular blonde, dump the water into the vial on top of the acid. Before she could move her face away, the concoction blew back into her face.

Luckily for her, two of the nearby boys grabbed her and rushed to the closest restroom, with Dr. Bryner in hot pursuit. Never mind that it was the Girl's Room. Some of the other students followed to help.

Those great boys splashed water onto her face and into her eyes as fast as they could. If they hadn't been so quick, she might have been permanently blinded. As it was, she had a few days of discomfort with slightly burned skin and sore eyes.

I never forgot that lesson or those boys. Dr. Bryner was one of my favorite teachers. ~ ~ Iris Ramey Seyfried '43

Loren C. Bryner, BYH 1944
Loren C. Bryner

Loren C. Bryner was an Instructor in Chemistry at BYH from 1937 to 1946. When he taught the process of distillation, he sang, "She was only a boot-legger's daughter, but I loved her still!" His hobby was glass-blowing. He married Maurine Fillmore on September 10, 1930, in Manti, Utah. She taught home economics at BYH for several years. Dr. Loren Conrad Bryner died February 18, 1986.

Confession -- Good for Soul & GPA!

Mr. C. LaVoir Jensen's classroom that year was in the Arts building, just to the left of the stairs going up to the second floor. A math class that I took from him was held the first period of the day. He was almost always a minute or two late, and would pull open the door with much gusto, hurry to the front of the class, and begin calling the roll.

One morning three enterprising students pulled the pins out of the door hinges, and waited for Mr. Jensen's arrival. We heard his footsteps on the stairs, and when he threw open the door, the tall door wobbled off its hinges. He somehow maintained control, and leaned the door against the wall.

Who did it?
C. LaVoir Jensen's BYH Blackboard Jungle

Walking to the front of the room, he sternly called out three names and asked, "Which one of you gentlemen is responsible?" The three "gentlemen" each confessed to the deed by saying it was their individual fault, and that neither of the other two had any part in it. All three of them received passing grades.

The personal confession tactic worked so well, that we tried it out again later in Edith Bauer's English class in 250A. The prank there did not involve a door, but this time there were seven "gentlemen" involved. By the time the seventh had confessed that it was all his fault, and that none of the other six had anything to do with it, we should have all received "A's" in Drama. We were all asked to apologize to Mrs. Bauer and to the rest of the class. Even Mrs. Bauer smiled.

What angels we were! ~~George Collard, Jr., '47


Confetti in the Air

In the winter of 1962 or 1963, we really liked our history/social studies teacher, but she became ill for several months, so we were assigned a long-term substitute teacher. She was okay, though a little scatterbrained (I can't imagine why). We learned that some recent writing assignments we had turned in couldn't be found and so could not be graded -- we were a little frustrated.

Our Education Building classroom was the one that opened out on the seldom-used front porch. The temperature in that classroom was difficult to regulate, and the substitute often asked us to turn the thermostat up or down. She didn't like too much heat, because the radiator was at the front of the room just behind her desk.

One day one of our friends showed us that if we took a tiny pin and punctured the insulated cord going up the wall to the thermostat, touching both wires, it would turn the system on high. The radiator would get hotter and hotter, no matter how low the thermostat was set. The pin was almost invisible. We tried it a few times and it worked as advertised, but there was not much point in it -- it just made us all hot and uncomfortable, too.

Down in the old wooden floor was a large vent -- perhaps two feet by three feet -- covered with a metal grate. It was on our side of the room. The temperature could also be regulated somewhat by opening and closing that air register. One day we accidentally dropped some small candy wrappers down in the grate, and when it was opened the next day, the paper flew out like confetti.

This gave us an idea.

One day we put hundreds of tiny pieces of paper into the closed floor vent. Then when class first started, we stuck the pin through the thermostat wire. Predictably, the radiator began to really put out the heat. Our substitute personally manipulated the thermostat, but it made no difference. Every one of us in the classroom was wiping perspiration from our foreheads.

Then the teacher remembered the floor vent. She asked one of the boys to open it to see if that would help. With his quick flip of the lever, the air in the classroom filled with tiny pieces of floating paper, like a snow globe that had just been shaken!

"Snow" continued to fly up randomy for about five minutes. Fortunately, the bell rang soon thereafter. We pulled the pin from the thermostat lead, and streamed out into the cool hallway, wet with perspiration but delighted that our plan had worked to perfection. ~~Larry Christensen '66

D - Vote for Larry Denham

1956 Dance at BYH

Dance Inspired by Biology Exam

My classmates and I attended BYH in the 1950s. Our daily class schedules went unchanged day after day -- unless we received a special announcement from the office, printed on yellow paper. When schedule changes came, the announcements were hand-delivered to the teachers by one of the student assistants who worked in the office.

One Friday afternoon we were eating our lunches at noon and bemoaning the fact that our biology teacher, Howard Barron, was going to give us a major exam in biology that afternoon.

As we talked we came up with an idea. One of the girls in our group had worked in the office in the past, so the teachers and staff were accustomed to seeing her in that role.

We asked her to print up an announcement on yellow paper that read:
Teachers please note: School will be dismissed at 2:30 this afternoon for a mat dance to be held in 250-A.
She carried the announcement around to all of the teachers.

We held our breath until 2:30 came, and like magic, all of the classes were dismissed. Kids poured into 250-A for the impromptu mat dance. My friends and I knew it was time to vanish, which we did.

Howard Barron, Biology Teacher at BYH
Howard Barron, Biology Teacher

On Monday morning, all of the conspirators were summoned to the office. Assistant Principal Winston Mercer and a few of the other teachers were fuming. Expulsion or something of near equal consequence was but an inch away.

But our biology teacher, Mr. Barron, was laughing so hard he could hardly stay in his chair. "That's the funniest prank I've ever heard of students doing," he said. "I wish I had been smart enough to think up something like that when I was a kid."

Whew! At least one of our teachers had a sense of humor. ~~Wes Whatcott '56

Unjust King of the BYH Kingdom

Down a Peg

One year I did not exactly see eye to eye with the Principal. In fact, I had some serious doubts about him.

That year I was Feature Editor of our student newspaper, the Y'ld Cat. The best part about being Feature Editor was that you could designate yourself as a columnist. Since I went by the name Peggy then, I named my column "Down a Peg".

I made one month's column a fairy tale about a kingdom, with an unjust king who hounded the gentry and mistreated the peasants. I thought I had done a reasonable job with irony and metaphor.

I received hardly any comments from the other students, but several teachers took me aside and told me they thought it was well written. I was interested in whether they agreed with me, and I took these comments as subtle agreement.

Although I was no hellion, I thought it was fun being slightly renegade in the face of oppression. ~~Margaret "Meg" Crockett '63

Gee Whiz!Dropping in unexpectedly

Dropping In Unexpectedly

Some boys in the Class of 1967 were in the Education Building attic one day, during school hours, trying to catch pigeons, they said. I have heard that the group included Joe Gee, Al Thomson, Joel Murphy and others.

Anyway, the others left and locked Joe in the attic. Walking around in the dark, he took a misstep and fell through the ceiling -- and remember, they were 10 to 12 foot ceilings. Joe landed solidly on a table, right in front of a teacher and a group of BYU students in a class.

Everyone must have been dumbfounded, because no one said a word, no one asked him if he was okay, or anything of the kind. Before they could react, Joe simply got up, gathered his composure, and acted as if it was a common thing for him to fall unexpectedly through ceilings into classrooms. He walked across the room and out the door. ~~Steve Thoresen '66

E -BYH in the E-world

Early Release Program

Anna B. Hart was one of our older teachers. We did not know much of anything about her, except that she had been a teacher at BY High for a long time. I didn't hear her unusual life story until long after I graduated. I knew only that she was proud of being very "efficient" and was determined that we would become "efficient" too.

One year my class took a reading course from her -- actually an "SRA" reading lab -- that involved systematically reading through an endless number of cards, then answering questions about what we had read. Each reading and test was carefully timed to teach us to read faster and more efficiently. It was actually a very helpful program.

When class started each day, Anna B. Hart did something I have never seen any other teacher do. Without fail, she called one of the students to come forward, and handed them her portable classroom clock. She asked the student to go down the main hall and synchronize this clock with the official school time.

Brigham Young High School Main Hall Clock

We instantly recognized this as an opportunity, and whoever served as time-setter for the day always set the classroom clock 10 minutes ahead, consistently releasing us early.

For years we have chuckled over getting out of her classes ten minutes early every day. It has only recently occurred to me that Anna B. Hart was a very intelligent lady, with decades of classroom experience with scheming students. She probably knew exactly what we would do, thus releasing her from class early every day, too! ~~Larry Christensen '66

Election in 1956 for Student Body President

In the Spring of 1956, David Grow and Ken Bentley were running against each other for election as Student Body President of BY High. The winner would serve during the 1956-1957 school year.

In an age before communications technology had been applied to our school political campaigns, Dave Grow did something remarkable that proved he was way ahead of the game.

After their campaign really started to heat up, early one morning everyone arrived on the Lower Campus to find four huge letters dangling from the bottom of the catwalk. The letters spelled, G R O W.

This was not an easy campaign feat to top -- maybe impossible.

Grow took a lead in the campaign, largely on the strength of the giant letters he and his friends had somehow managed to wire to the frame of the catwalk.

Of course, several major risks were involved.

For example, the heavy letters had been suspended in the dark of the night, hung higher than any ladder I had ever seen, and they had to be firmly secured to keep them from falling on someone.

Most dangerous of all, the deed had been done without the permission of the school administration.

Surviving all risks, Grow managed to emerge as the winner. ~~ Nick Boshard, '61
Brigham Young High School Catwalk - 1956


Transferring from a predominantly non-Mormon school, I loved coming to BY High where I would hear conversations in the hall, lectures in class, or as we gathered around the main hall, about Mutual or Seminary. It was so nice to be around peers who shared the same values I had.
Student line in 1965 at Brigham Young High School

To not smell smoke or alcohol in the classrooms and halls, to have teachers who were examples I could look up to, and to be around peers who could have so much fun doing good things, was such a refreshing change from the school evironment from which I had come. ~~Shirlee Davis Packer '65

F - BYH Fire Escape

Fire Escape

We loved the College Hall fire escape--a long spiral slide that was attached to the north side of the building.

The fire escape was a constant concern to our principal and teachers. It was such a great temptation that several people suggested locking the door to the slide. But locked fire escapes don't make fire marshals very happy.

Instead, a variety of threats were used, with varying degrees of success. Since I, one of the more shy and reserved members of my class, can remember numerous great swirling descents, I expect that the rules against using the fire escape were observed mainly in the breech. ~~Todd Britsch '55

College Hall spiral fire escape

Fire Escape ~ How We Made It to the Top

My first experience with the Lower Campus occurred many years before I attended BY High.

During the 1946-1947 school year my family lived just a few blocks away on 7th North, west of University Avenue. I was in 1st Grade at Joaquin Elementary School at the time.

As neighborhood kids we experienced the irresistible urge to explore the Lower Campus in the evenings and on weekends when the buildings were usually locked up.

The most exciting thing we discovered was the three-story outside fire escape, which consisted of an enclosed spiral slide.

Those who have only heard about it -- it was torn down in the late 1950s -- were mystified about how we could get to the top of it.

We kids discovered that we could climb into the bottom of the slide, brace ourselves against the sides and work our way to the top, using a climbing technique similar to that of a rock climber who goes up a "chimney".

Once at the top we could enjoy the dizzying slide to the bottom, then let the next kid have a turn. ~~Varne Beckwith '58

Filibuster in Seminary

At BY High all of the students took Seminary classes. The classes were held at various times during the day -- thank heaven we had no early morning or Saturday classes. Many of our classrooms had a piano of some type in them, making it easier to schedule a Seminary class there. Seminary classes almost always started with a prayer, a scripture reading, and a hymn.

One day our class was scheduled for a big exam in Bro. Wallace Montague's Book of Mormon class. There had been a lot going on in our other classes that week, and everyone had found it difficult to study for this test. We were all desperate to avoid that test, but how? Mr. Montague never gave in when we begged for mercy.

Larry Denham suggested a plan, and in desperation we decided to try it. After a normal opening prayer, Mel Martin led us in a hymn he had selected -- A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief -- all seven verses of it. Mr. Montague looked at his watch a couple of times as he sang along with us, but did not say anything. When our singing finally ground to a halt, Mel slowly returned to his seat.

Then Larry came forward and began to read an entire section of the Doctrine and Covenants -- one of the long ones. As he read verse after verse after verse, we began to see -- this is the truth -- smoke slowly curling out of Mr. Montague's head! He was a large man, and suddenly he could take no more. He stood up and sent Denham to his seat.

"I realize what you are doing, folks," said Mr. Montague. "I had already planned to delay the test until next Monday, but I had hoped to spend today helping you to review for it. Mel and Larry, I'm sorry to interrupt your musical and scriptural filibuster, but we need to get on to things that are more important. Okay?"

With newfound enthusiasm we all began to cram for the exam to come. ~~Larry Christensen '66
Wallace Montague - seminary class at BY High
Bro. Montague's Class Thru One-Way Glass

Anna B. Hart's geranium flowers

Flowers, Apparently Edible

I will never forget the time I saw Richard "Pinky" Judd calmly eat Anna Boss Hart's geranium during her lecture on a Shakespeare sonnet. ~~Alec Andrus '61

Richard Gunn, BYH Class of 1966
Richard Gunn '66

A BYH Football Story

A classmate, Rick Gunn '66, was a small person -- about 135 pounds. But he loved football! He went out for football and the coaches put him at defensive back. He was very fast and was fearless.

I remember one game at the new BYU stadium -- I was sitting about half-way up the bleachers. The opposing team punted, and Rick and Barry Olson '66 were the two receiving backs. The punt went toward Barry, and Rick yelled "You take it, Barry" and then he ran at the two tacklers heading for Barry Olson and threw a cross-body block that hit both of them so hard I could hear the crash clear up in the bleachers. It put both opposing players out of the game -- at least temporarily.

At practice the next Monday, the coaches had the game film, and they had made sure the entire offensive line was there to review that one play over and over again -- "That's how I want you to block! You've got to learn it from the smallest guy on the team."

One day I went to seminary class, where I sat next to Rick. He was sitting at his desk with a large notepad. On the pad were two columns labeled "For" and "Against." The "For" column was filled with about twenty entries -- more girls, more clubs, more electives, etc. The "Against" column had only one entry -- Football. I asked Rick what he was doing. He said, "I'm looking at all of the arguments for transferring to Provo High."

Rick stayed at B. Y. High. ~~ John W. Gardner '66

G- The Great & Abominable, Ltd. at BYH

Gassed in 1957

One warm day in 1957 I remember watching my classmates pour rotten egg liquid into the heat vent during Problems in Democracy Class. This resulted in evacuation of the building for a little while. ~~Kent Jarvis '60
See Problems in Democracy Class

Gold-Plated French Dictionary

At BY High I was required to take a class in French from a genial young teacher named Thomas Patten. He tried hard and was so understanding, but I never even learned how to look up a word in my new French dictionary. He assigned all of us to write a poem in French -- an unmitigated disaster for me. However, Mr. Patten insisted that I enter my gibberish in a BYU language festival, held one cold Saturday on the upper campus. I had to read it aloud; it was embarrassing beyond words.

I knew I was going to get the first "F" of my life, and then would have to repeat the class! My friends were doing a little better, but they were sympathetic. In fact, one of them even came up with a strategy to improve my grade. I laughed when I heard it, but eventually did it out of sheer desperation, and perhaps it worked.

In art class, we had access to various materials, including gold paint. It was used to paint the edges of books, like many of our scriptures, to make them shine like gold. The plan was to paint my entire French dictionary in gold, let it dry for a few days, and then on the last day of class present it to Mr. Patten as a token of appreciation from our class, for "getting us started on the golden road toward speaking French like a native".

Golden French dictionary at BY High

I got a "C" and did not have to repeat the class. Some say the gold-plated dictionary had touched his heart. I suspect he passed me so he would not have to see me back in his class again the next year.

P.S. Later I went on a mission to Taiwan from 1967 to 1969, where after tremendous travail I began to speak Mandarin Chinese. I had higher help, I know. But where many of my companions promptly forgot all of their Chinese upon returning home, I had had to work so hard to get it into my mind, it has been impossible to forget it, though now 36 years later, it is a little rusty and fu tza. ~~Larry Christensen '66

H - BYH in Happy Valley

Home-Made Root Beer

It happened when I was in Ward H. Magleby's seminary class in 1957. Bro. Magleby announced a classroom party, and I was proud and happy to agree to help with refreshments. I volunteered to bring a half-dozen bottles of root beer that I had helped to make. Home-made root beer bottling was a long family tradition that still continues at our homestead on Maple Lane in Provo.

We followed our traditional family recipe, and for the requisite brown glass bottles we went to a distributor in south Provo and got used beer bottles, which worked well with bottle caps and our manual capper.

I arrived at the party with the ice-cold bottles. I popped the cap off the first bottle, but before I could consume a single drop, Bro. Magleby appeared at my side and arrested my arm movement.

He scolded me for bringing the drinks in beer bottles. He let me know that I should have remembered being taught how important it is to avoid even the appearance of evil - - and there I stood cloaked with the appearance of Demon Beer!

I did manage to save the offending root beer from almost certain destruction, and my family consumed later it at home.

This close call at the yawning gates of hellfire and damnation was emblazoned in my memory, though the images faded and cooled quite rapidly, thank goodness! ~~John Lambert '59

Honky-Tonk Hymns

One day after school, some of us were sitting around in Anna B. Hart's empty classroom, just talking. One of the students sat down at the old piano and began to play a song, practicing for our Seminary class, which came second period the next morning.

Suddenly one of the keys he played produced an odd tinny sound. We opened up the piano lid and discovered the problem: someone had stuck a thumbtack into the felt of one of the hammer heads.

Quickly we scrounged around and came up with a box full of thumbtacks. Soon we had converted every hammer in the old piano by adding a thumbtack. Our piano player then played five or six songs in this delightful style. We had never known how the distinctive sound of an old honky-tonk piano had been made -- but now we knew. It was delightful to hear anything plinked out, including hymns, in this old-fashioned style.

When we were ready to leave for home or practice, we began to remove the tacks, but our piano player had a better idea. Our second class the next morning was Seminary, and there was no class scheduled in this room during the first period.

"Let's leave the tacks in," he said. We agreed.

The next morning all of the culpable parties arrived a little early, for once. Our pianist quickly took his place at the piano bench to prevent any premature disclosure.The student who would lead the music was one of us.

We started off with our usual opening prayer, scripture reading, and hymn. Although we knew what was coming, we were still shocked by the tinkling sounds:

"Let us oft speak kind words to each other…"

The musicians feigned a surprised stumble or two, but recovered nicely and continued soberly to the end. The rest of us worked hard, with only moderate success, to avoid laughing.

"At home or where'er we may be;
Like the warblings of birds on the heather,
The tones will be welcome and free…"

At the long hymn's conclusion, our Seminary teacher congratulated our chorister and pianist for continuing on despite the "flabbergasting sounds" that had emanated from our piano.

After that, however, we noticed that he personally checked the hammers on the piano before each and every class, to avoid any more honky-tonk hymn playing. ~~Larry Christensen '66

hooky candy


One day Kathy Brady and I decided to play hooky from English class, and we walked north up the University Avenue to a candy store.

When I was sitting in Mr. McConkie's History class later, the principal, H. David Nelson, came into our class and called my name. I was so embarrassed and scared.

He went with me into Mr. McConkie's office, sat down in the teacher's chair behind the desk, put his hands behind his head and leaned back, giving me the evil eye all the while.

Remember those old rickety desk chairs? He lost his balance and fell backwards onto the floor -- I had a hard time keeping a serious face! ~~Susan McNamara Comish '66
I - The Eye of the Cat

Idea Starters

J - Jell-O tops in Utah

Jubilee Celebration

I remember a Jubilee Celebration when we joined with all the college students and marched down Academy Avenue (father of University Avenue) to the Provo Tabernacle. All the students sang, "Stars of Morning, Shout for Joy," and it was one of life's biggest moments. ~~Dorothy O. Rea '29~H

Junior Prom

I recall with fondness our entire Junior year, especially preparations for, and pulling off, the best Junior Prom ever. O the leaky fountains, and those paper flowers on the white-washed trees!

I remember being with several classmates on the day after the dance, sitting around the church cultural hall, in the midst of all the dance decorations we seemed not to have the will to begin dismantling.

I think we wanted that moment to last forever. I guess it has. ~~Mike Bullock '65

K - Kindergarten thru 12th Grade at BYH

Kennedy Assassination

It would be nice if I could replay some of the funny times we had while in school, but the most vivid memory of our years together was brought back during the attack on the Twin Towers that occurred on that infamous 9/11. That incident reminded me of the same terrible feeling I had during the lunch period on November 22, 1963, when the Kennedy shooting was announced. In my mind's eye I can still see that many of you stopped eating your sack lunch as the horror of national terror and death unfolded. The normal activity of trying to attract attention to ourselves was overshadowed by the silence in the room that followed the announcement of that terrible event. Fortunately, as we have seen, life goes on even after tragedy. I continue to be grateful for our shared background that formed the foundation for my life. ~~Greg Wilson '65

Kennedy Assassination in Real Time

I was teaching Spanish at B. Y. High School on lower campus when someone yelled in the hall that President Kennedy had been shot. It came like a thunderbolt of shock and grief I had heretofore only felt once -- at a death in the family.

It was 11:45 a.m., November 22, 1963, and of course I can recall exactly where I was standing on the third floor of the now-razed Arts building, threading tape into a language laboratory recorder. I hurried home a few blocks away at noon and followed the news until I had to return to teach afternoon classes, then rushed back to continue the watch.

Even those unborn at the time have seen all the same scenes in stark black and white. But there was something about seeing them live. As subsequent events unfolded most dramatically, only those who were living and old enough to remember them can appreciate what it was like to see all this, as we say now, "in real time."
Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK

We witnessed the previously unperturbable Walter Cronkite emotionally confirm the President's death, and the somber scenes of Dallas and Dealy Plaza. Then there was the still photo, aired just minutes after the event, of Judge Hughes, the Johnsons, and the bloodstained Mrs. Kennedy at the swearing-in of our new President aboard the Presidential aircraft.

Everyone in the community was aware of President Ernest L. Wilkinson's political preferences and that he detested Democrats. However, none of us, regardless of party affiliation, expected anything less than the total closure of the University on Monday, January 25, 1964, in observance of the funeral of President Kennedy.

We were startled and shocked at the decision made by President Wilkinson to proceed with classes as if it were an ordinary day. Following his decision, announced on Sunday afternoon or evening, there were rumblings of discontent, but muted (though not completely), as the vast majority of faculty and students were not in agreement. However, we, for the most part, respected authority and prepared to report as usual.

I called my colleague at B.Y. High, Julia Caine, who taught a course in History in the room next to my Spanish class, during what was to be the funeral hour. I told her I would bring my small TV to her larger room if I could bring in my Spanish class. She readily and with appreciation agreed.

The epilogue to this story is unfortunately an ugly one and may not survive editing because it reveals a darker side of prejudices and carrying out policies to an extreme. President Wilkinson, in announcing that BYU would hold forth as usual on the day of the Kennedy funeral, did encourage those free of duties or class during the funeral to watch the proceedings on TV.

So Julia Caine and I had no qualms about merging our classes (after all, hers ironically was the Current History class), with my portable TV set up. We and our rapt students followed the caisson, the riderless horse, and the remainder of the cortege across the Potomac to Arlington.

Just as the proceedings there began, H. David Nelson, an administrator at the Laboratory School, apparently rankled that I had moved my class, poked his head in Mrs. Caine's room and berated me and all of us for not following the university policy of no cancellation of classes.

He then jerked the electric plug and carried off my TV to his office. I shed no tears some months later when he was removed from his position, but I smoldered the entire time over this high-handedness. ~~M. Rex Arnett, BYH Spanish Teacher 1962-1966

L - Leaves in Autumn at BYH

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