ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With zombie fever running amok, it's not surprising to see an apparent tribute to the undead on one of the classroom doors of the University of New Mexico-run AIMS charter school.
But the door, with fake blood, a "No Zombies" sign, is no Halloween decoration. It's the threshold to an unusual middle school class at the Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science.
The class is called ZORT short for the Zombie Outbreak Response Team. It has more than 20 "cadets" preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Those cadets have their own military-style uniforms and the class, its own rules.
Rule 1: Cardio.
Rule 2: Safety.
Rule 3: Communication.
"We have fun thinking there's a zombie apocalypse happening right now and how we could survive it with everyone," said ZORT Cadet Anjelica Metzgar.
But ZORT's two teachers say the zombie theme is more of a theme and a way to hook kids than anything else.
"Our leadership program isn't about zombies, but we dress it up that way," said teacher Jerry Delmore. "We wanted to teach leadership, survival skills and living history."
Some of the skills taught include gardening, sewing, metal casting, water purification, fire-starting and how to avoid food-borne illnesses.
Recycling and repurposing new technologies for different uses is another key part.
"We broke down some old computers and TVs and got some wires out of them," said ZORT Cadet Shawn Yazzie.
"Electricity goes out, we're back to the 18th century," said Delmore.
That opens up a window for a hands-on history lesson or two, teacher Don Frazier's specialty.
"It's one thing to have the students reading about the Old West in a book. It's another thing to have them working in a forge," Frazier said.
For Frazier, the zombie theme is a means to an end.
"I can't really understand it, but I'm able to use it in order to help my students," Frazier said.
This is the second semester ZORT has been taught. Delmore says if the zombie fad wears off, they don't have a problem switching the theme.
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