Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brigham Young High School

Continuing on with my focus of Provo, I felt the need to discuss the most quintessential thing about Provo: Brigham Young University.  I have touched on it a little bit in the past, with posts about the Beehive Fountain (and Women's Gymnasium) and the Central Building.  However, I wanted to do a more in depth history about BYU.

Today's information is going to be a little scattered because I frankly have had a hard time finding information about it.  It is regarding the BYU normal school or the BYU training school (I believe that they are actually the same thing, just two different names).  Here is a picture of it from 1902:

 Courtesy of the Lee Library, Brigham Young University

Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Lee Library, Brigham Young University

Here is my guess in regards to these two photos.  Brigham Young University, when first created (and was Brigham Young Academy) consisted of a full educational system.  The best description that I found is the wikipedia article about Brigham Young High School:

"As BYA matured, in 1895 a separate High School department was established in the Academy. In 1896, a College Department was added. Though it only had a few college-level students each year beginning in 1881, BYA principal Benjamin Cluff petitioned the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to create and sponsor a new entity to be named Brigham Young University. The modern era began in 1903, when Brigham Young Academy officially ceased to exist. It was replaced by two successor schools, Brigham Young High School and Brigham Young University. However, it was many years before University enrollment exceeded the High School enrollment. For example, in academic year 1903-1904, the school had 14 faculty members, 825 high school students, and 74 collegiate students.

"Brigham Young High School classes were taught in the BY Academy building, the Arts Building, College Hall, the Industrial Arts Building and both the Men's Gym and the Women's Gym, all on the "Lower Campus". BYH students also attended some classes on the "Upper Campus" of BYU. BYH continued full strength until 1968, partially as a training facility for student teachers taught by master teachers in the BYU's College of Education, and partially as a school where experimental educational programs could be conceptualized, implemented and analyzed for effectiveness -- or lack thereof."

I believe that the two buildings in the picture were connected to Brigham Young High School (although they had the names "Normal" and "Training" attached).  "Normal school" was a type of school where teachers were trained, which was the main purpose of Brigham Young High School.  I believe that the building was located somewhere near the current location of the Academy Building, between 500 and 600 North on University.  Also, Brigham Young High School runs an excellent website which may be of interest to anyone looking to learn more information about this subject.

I would argue that the most prominent and visible legacy of Brigham Young High has become part of BYU's legacy: Y mountain.  You can read the full story here, but in short, the high school class of 1907 (Juniors at the time) inscribed their graduation year in the mountainside.  The seniors were angry, shaved the heads of the junior students that participated in event, and fights began to break out.  It was decided that to solve the ordeal and create unity, the letters BYU would be inscribed on the mountainside.  The plan was to start with the letter Y, and after taking much more effort than expected, they decided to not continue with the B and the U.  And that is why there is only a Y there today.  Here is an interesting video about Y mountain (just a heads up, I'm not a huge fan of the video.  I feel like it is romanticized a little, but the info and pictures are interesting).

While many people may disagree with my opinion about the video, I don't think that Y mountain or "Y days" holds the significance that it used to.  In fact, I didn't even know what Y days are until watching the video (and I went to BYU for 4 years).  It doesn't have the impact to bring the community together like it once did.  However, climbing the Y is still a big event.  As a freshman, everyone climbed the Y.  I had a friend who jogged up it once a week.  The top of the Y will always hold a special place in my heart because that is where I held a short vigil and burial of my first pet, Boris the snake.

Also here are a couple of pictures of Y mountain from back in the 1906 (when it was finished) and what it looks like today:

Courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Lee Library, Brigham Young University


  1. I figured it out. The two buildings in today's post were part of the lot where academy square is. They were demolished in 1997, when the Academy Building was being restored (there was not enough funds to restore the two buildings, the Academy Building, and the one other building that was on the lot). You can read more about it by going to this blog post:

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