Local churches will offer a new seminary course for students at the Rigby and Ririe High Schools starting this year.

Rigby High School Principal Bryan Lords said Roberts Community Church member Susie Easter called him in March, asking about whether release time could be offered for students who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve never dealt with that, but I don’t see why we couldn’t,’” Lords said.

Lords said Latter-day Saint seminary, and release time, has been offered to students at the high school for more than 30 years. Easter said it makes sense that this version of seminary has traditionally been the only option, but said she thinks it will be beneficial for students to have another choice.

“I think it’s good to have diversity for all of the children in high schools,” Easter said.

Students, regardless of religion, will be able to earn one pass/fail college credit through Northwest Nazarene University through the class. Easter said the credit is also available for home-schooled students. High school credit will not be offered, and the course will be treated by the high schools as essentially the same as Latter-day Saint seminary.

“It gives kids an opportunity to go on their own time and work with their churches or their religious services and give them some additional support if they need it,” Lords said.

The new seminary classes to be offered are part of the Launch Pad Program, which is headed by founder and executive director Rock Brown. Brown said the program is called Launch Pad because the goal is to “launch students into their schools and their communities to serve and be a positive influence in those places.”

“Our desire is that they give back,” Brown said.

Brown said the community will provide the teachers, and in turn, Launch Pad will provide training, bible curriculum and ongoing oversight. Currently, Launch Pad is offered at more than 20 schools throughout the state, though the Jefferson County program will be the only in eastern Idaho.

The Launch Pad courses will be taught at Crown of Life Lutheran Church for Rigby students and at the Ririe Chapel for Ririe students. Lords said the Church of Latter-day Saints seminary building across from the Rigby High School initially wanted to offer to house the classes. That changed, however.

“Because of the sheer number of students they have, they weren’t able to offer that,” Lords said.

Next year West Jefferson High School will also offer Launch Pad release time, Easter said. The original plan was to offer the program at West Jefferson this school year, but the pastor of the partnering church wanted to wait until the church renovations were complete.

The churches currently involved in the program are Roberts Community Church, Crown of Life Lutheran Church and South Fork Outdoorsmen Church.

Easter said a Launch Pad course will be offered for two trimesters at each of the schools. For Rigby students, the class is offered for the first and second trimesters, and in Ririe the class will take place during the second and third.

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