Morenci Area High School principal Nate Parker hopes to ZAP away homework problems for freshmen and sophomores in the coming school year.
Beginning in September, the Zeroes Are Not Permitted (ZAP) program will target the two younger classes at the high school, although the parents of juniors and seniors can request the inclusion of their children.
The ZAP program kicks in when a student fails to turn in a homework assignment on time. This leads to an after-school detention period scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m.
If an assignment is completed and turned in before the end of the school day, ZAP can be avoided. As soon as an assignment is completed in ZAP, the student will be allowed to leave. An assignment completed during ZAP will receive only 50 percent credit.
ZAP takes precedence over extracurricular activities such as sports, Parker said. Anyone who fails to show up at ZAP or fails to complete an assignment after two ZAP sessions will be assigned to Saturday School where the assignment will be completed.
The key to ZAP’s success, said the principal, is parental support. Parents have the option of exempting their student from the program, but Parker believes ZAP will be of benefit to students who are facing academic problems.
“Ultimately, if parents want it to succeed, they have to make sure their students participate,” Parker said.
He sees two good reasons for support.
“Kids who do their homework get better grades,” he said, “and if assignments don’t get done during the day, they often don’t get done at all.”
Parents should consider the transportation needs for both the ZAP program and Saturday School, Parker said, and provide a phone number so they can be contacted when their student is ZAP’d.
Parker said the program is being introduced at the request of several teachers.
“The teachers wanted to get it in place and they agreed to volunteer their time to make it work,” he said. “It’s a credit to the staff that they’re willing to volunteer time for it.”
Parker has heard that other area school districts have reported success with the program.
Letters will be sent to the parents of ninth and tenth grade students seeking their support of the program.