High School Honors Seminar


0.25 Credits per Seminar

Enrollment is open to all Ensign Peak Academy High School Students

This program is comprised of a series of nine-week seminars and provides material beyond the regular curriculum. Each seminar is designed to engage the student in an in-depth discussion. These seminars are not designed to be harder but a qualitatively different experience with creative and critical thinking. Discussing the material in depth will give the student more confidence across the curriculum by being better able to connect history, philosophy, religion, family values, principles and virtues. Students will be encouraged to bring knowledge gained from their other classes to the discussion.   

Each nine-week seminar meets 1.5 hours once a week and requires one 500 word paper at the end of the nine weeks, answering one question provided by the instructor. Each seminar requires two hours of outside work a week which will include the reading assignment, a movie or short videos. This program is designed to be deep and doable; to enhance, not to replace, the student’s regular classes. Participation in class will be a significant part of your grade. 

High school students are invited to register for each seminar separately, according to personal interest.

Tuition: $95 per Nine-Week Seminar

Elizabeth SmailesMentor: Dr. Elizabeth Smailes

Dr. Elizabeth Smailes is a mentor for serious readers. She believes that edification and education can, in the right setting, support and build on one another. As a seminary teacher for over 15 years she has a broad gospel base. She believes that when this gospel base is used to judge all other literature, the result is electrifying. Dr. Smailes is a graduate and former mentor from George Wythe University. This educational background enables her understand how students can see themselves and the world through the lens of great leaders and thinkers of the past and present. She studied Logotherapy and received a certificate of completion from the School of Logotherapy, located in Dallas, Texas. Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frank. It is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. She believes that we are here to inspire one another and receives her most tender inspiration from her grandchildren, as she sees hope and joy in their eyes.

2020-2021 Schedule

Seminar 1: Wednesdays, Aug 19, 2020 – Oct 14, 2020, 9:00 – 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Seminar 2: Wednesdays, Oct 21, 2020 – Jan 13, 2021 (no classes on Nov 25, Dec 16, 23, 30), 9:00 – 10:30 Pacific Time

Seminar 3: Wednesdays, Jan 20, 2021 – Mar 17, 2021, 9:00 – 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Seminar 4: Wednesdays, Mar 24, 2021 – May 26, 2021 (no class Mar 31), 9:00 – 10:30 AM Pacific Time

Seminar Descriptions

women-35418_640Seminar 1: The Family Bank Account

Is gold money? Technically no, but the standard by which the value of money is set influences our view of material value and worth. Seeing money as a tool for the strength of a family and society is a necessary discussion for future and current consumers and well illustrated by the readings in this course. How does God want us to see money? To help answer this question the seminar will be reading and discussing sections of Mama’s Bank Account, The Wizard of Oz and How Green Was My Valley. Outside assignments will include reading articles, watching videos and answering questions generated by the class discussion. 

Seminar 1 Readings

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baby-2028307_640 (1)Seminar 2: The Wisdom of Pooh—Facing Modern Personality Tests

A.A. Milne’s books are full of wisdom offered to the reader from the voice of a bear. This may sound like a simple and elementary discussion, but innocence when combined with wisdom, accesses happiness. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s small book, The Little Prince, also offers us a look at the world seen through the innocence of a child. 

Modern educators want children to grow up quickly. One of the modern methods used to help a student ‘find himself’ is the personality test. In this class the students will take different personality tests and deconstruct them. Based on the characters of Pooh the class will construct their own version of the personality test. 

Seminar 2 Readings

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513px-Jordan_Peterson_June_2018Seminar 3: Summary of 12 Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson brings common sense to the kitchen table. His book has been dubbed an “antidote to chaos. We will discuss each of the 12 rules and how they can be applied using eternal principles.  Not only will we be discussing this book but also watching and analyzing clips from Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and short excerpts of Dostoevsky’s books, an author Peterson has high praise for as an observer of human nature. Dostoevsky’s short book “Dream of a Ridiculous Man” is his short account of a dream he had in which the characters’ whole perspective changes when he sees his place in eternity.

Image Source: Jordan Peterson. Gage Skidmore. June 2018  CC By-SA 3.0

Seminar 3 Readings

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515px-Brandon_Sanderson_-_Lucca_Comics_&_Games_2016Seminar 4: Charity, Alms and Welfare

This is Brandon Sanderson’s first published book, and may be his most profound. There are many versions of alms giving, charity and welfare. Sanderson presents a version of charity we usually don’t consider which is- the role that those less fortunate can have in healing society.  As well as reading this book we will discuss multiple commentaries on charity and alms-giving, including C.S. Lewis’ chapter on charity from “Mere Christianity”. Which systems of charity work well? What are some ancient ideas of charity? Do all forms of charity serve their purpose? The paper in this class will be a report on either a way you served others during these 9 weeks or an observation which you made about welfare and charity during these 9 weeks. 

How did you serve others in your community or family during this nine-week seminar? What did you learn from the experience? What is meant by ‘relieving suffering?’

Image Source : Brandon Sanderson – Lucca Comics & Games. Niccolò Caranti  2016 CC BY-SA 4.0

Seminar 4 Readings

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