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Attendance and attitudes apparently have improved at two Granite District high schools that are piloting a program to require a citizenship credit as a condition for graduation.

Principals of Kearns and Skyline high schools reported Tuesday to the district Board of Education that the experiment seems to be headed for success and that it has support from many teachers, parents and students.The citizenship requirement was initiated after a period of study and some reluctance. It has proved controversial in some other districts where parents have reacted strenuously to a child being barred from graduation because he fell short of earning the necessary citizenship credit. Most programs - including those in Granite - also require that a student make up lost citizenship credit through extra work. Several options are provided the Kearns and Skyline students.

Although he was optimistic about the program and believes it should be implemented across the district, Kearns Principal Richard Haacke warned board members that "you haven't been tried yet." Problems with the program are most likely to arise at graduation time, he said.

Both Haacke and Skyline Principal David Richards said a pilot program in only two schools has proved to be a wise step. They have encountered minor problems that couldn't be anticipated before a program actually was initiated, they said. Adjustments have been made to address those problems.

"We have learned a great deal," Haacke said. "That will be valuable to us as we move toward a district policy." Eventually, both junior high schools and high schools are likely to have a citizenship requirement. Board members asked that other schools begin to prepare for that eventuality.

Inservice training for teachers, in particular, needs to be enhanced, the principals said, especially for specialty teachers who are not in regular classrooms routinely. Parents and students need to thoroughly understand the policy, too, they said, to avoid conflicts.

Both principals reported increased attendance and less tardiness as students comply with the citizenship requirement.