After attending for the last 30 years, Kellie Schroeder and her friends know how to make the most of Education Week. When they're not in class, you can find them exploring Provo's great outdoors, dancing in Helaman Halls, and eating Creamery ice cream.
If you get lost at this year’s Education Week, try to find a group of tall women (ranging from about 5’7” to 6’0”) who may be sporting bright red T-shirts with the slogan “All things are better with girlfriends” emblazoned on the front. After attending every year for the past thirty years or so, Kellie Schroeder and her friends are Education Week experts.
Kellie and her group of friends met over forty years ago in Mesa, Arizona, where the majority still reside. Their height made them natural candidates for playing on ward volleyball and softball teams, where most of the women met in their early- to mid-20s. From then on, they have been present in each other’s lives, from being bridesmaids to traveling the 631 miles from Mesa to Provo together each summer.
Kellie, the group’s “organizer and program director,” sends out a text each year around February or March: “Ed Week — who’s in?” She then sends out the group link number so they can all stay in Helaman Halls dorms together.
“It’s way funner and way cheaper,” explains Kellie. Each night at Education Week, these friends stay up giggling, dancing, and playing dominoes and card games. They also discuss what they learned during classes.
“Over the years things have changed; we do things differently than when we were 30-somethings. And our classes have changed,” Kellie says.
In the beginning, they would go to classes on dealing with toddlers and teenagers. Then came classes on preparing children for missions and college and marriage. But there are some classes they can’t help but attend — even if they have attended before.
Brad Wilcox’s classes are perennial favorites. They also enjoy Anthony Sweat’s classes. “We went to his class when he was teaching in a small classroom, and now he’s in the Marriott Center!”
Other standout speakers for the group include Randall Wright, Jack Marshall, David Christensen, and acclaimed pianist Marvin Goldstein — who enjoys seeing the friends each year as well and has nicknamed the group the “Arizona Amazons” due to their height (they affectionately call him “Marvie” or “Marvelous Marv”).
However, Education Week isn’t just contained to the classroom for the Arizona Amazons.
“We skip classes on Monday and do active things,” says Kellie.
The group has hiked to Stewart Falls and Timpanogos Cave, ridden bikes to Vivian Park up Provo Canyon, and floated down the Provo River. They’ve also visited the Provo City Center Temple and participated in a session. And, of course, they make frequent trips to the Creamery — many of the women have confessed that they sometimes ditch classes to get ice cream.
For the friends from Mesa, Education Week is a time to gather together as friends. Kellie enjoys the classes, but her “number one thing is just being together. … We love each other.”