Last night was seminary graduation, and I had two students graduating. They have been faithful in attending for all 4 years. The interesting thing about seminary graduation is that it really does open doors for these kids. There are actually some missions, like Russia and Brazil, that will not allow missionaries in to their country without a "degree" of some kind. Those kids who fail to attend all four years close the door to the opportunity to be called to one of those missions. Seminary graduation also sometimes plays a part in helping kids to get accepted to BYU. For those kids who have a 4.0 grade point average, it probably doesn't hurt their acceptance chances at BYU. But for those whose grade point average is lower, if they are in competition with another student with the same GPA, BYU is more likely to take the one who is a seminary graduate.
That may sound petty, but graduating from seminary really says something. It says that the student had the discipline to wake up earlier than their non-lds classmates every morning. It says they really care about their spiritual welfare. It doesn't mean they are an expert scriptorian, but the education they get certainly does help them develop a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of my students that graduated last night is mentally challenged. I have written about him before. As I talked with his mother, I told her some of the things I appreciated about having him in my class. Every morning, before starting our lesson, we have a spiritual thought and prayer given by the students. Whenever it was this young man's turn, his mother would help him prepare in advance a simple thought. But what I shared with her is that there were days when the person whose turn it was to give the thought didn't come. So I asked this young man to share a scripture with us. He didn't rely on the "scripture mastery" scriptures that were marked in his book, but would share a meaningful scripture that he had heard in his "Mission Preparation" class. The thoughts he shared with us that were self generated were far more meaningful than the carefully prepared ones that his mother helped with. His mother also shared with me that they decided that as a family they would help him learn his scripture mastery scriptures. So every Monday night, as part of their "Family Home Evening", they would do a short scripture chase as a family. When they first started doing this, they were SHOCKED at how many of them he knew! This young man may be mentally challenged, but he has a deep love for the scriptures, and really thinks about the meaning of them. She also told me that not long ago they were sitting in church and the speaker started reading a scripture. This young man turned directly to it without prompting to know where it was. There is a lot more going on in that mind and heart than most people give him credit for. His fondest dream is to serve a mission, but because of his mental challenges, he can't serve in a typical mission. His father is the Bishop in his Ward, and has arranged for him to do a local service mission at the "Bishop's Storehouse". I hope that satisfies him, but I'm not sure if it will because he loves to preach the gospel.
My other student came every day, but like clockwork, fell asleep at 7:10 every morning. lol But she faithfully attended, and tried her hardest. She may not have heard every part of every lesson, but I know her life will be blessed from having attended seminary.