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Filed under Opinion

Why Schools Should Start Later.

The+sound+of+the+alarm+as+it+is+time+to+let+the+day+begin+again.
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Why Schools Should Start Later.

The sound of the alarm as it is time to let the day begin again.

The sound of the alarm as it is time to let the day begin again.

Photo by Esme Warmuth

The sound of the alarm as it is time to let the day begin again.

Photo by Esme Warmuth

Photo by Esme Warmuth

The sound of the alarm as it is time to let the day begin again.

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For the average teenager in New York, school begins at 8:00. The state with the earliest average high school start time is Louisiana, where the morning bell rings out at 7:40. If we look at those facts, and then at our own bell schedule, Pet-Med High School starts a full forty minutes earlier than the New York standard, and twenty minutes before the earliest average start time in America.

As I’m sure you’ve heard many times, teenagers should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep nightly; but with some schedules, that’s just not possible. For example, if someone woke up at 6:15 AM, spent twenty minutes getting ready for school and ten minutes traveling there, they would have to go to bed at 8:15 PM in order to get the recommended amount of sleep. This is a ridiculous prospect for many students, seeing as the average teen falls asleep considerably later than small children and adults.

There is a scientific reason for this, the teenage brain produces the sleep inducing hormone melatonin much later then the brain of their parent or younger sibling; therefore, the hormone stays active for longer partially explaining why teens are so groggy in the morning, they just aren’t built to wake up so early in the morning.

Once at school, it takes many students a couple of periods to really wake up. It’s normal to see a student clutching a cup of coffee like it’s liquid gold during the first hours of the school day. Truth be told, it’s nearly impossible to concentrate on your morning classes when you’re half asleep.

The struggle to focus early in the morning is something that everyone has experienced one time or another, but being subjected to it on a daily basis is why even the most diligent students could be caught dozing off during a lecture first thing in the morning. It isn’t that they dislike the class or the subject matter, but sometime you just can’t run on five hours of sleep.

Another consequence of the early start time is that many high school students are forced to skip breakfast for the sake of making it to first period, and if they don’t have a lunch period, that means they don’t have a real meal until they get home at 2:00 PM, or even later if they have extra help or extracurricular activities to attend.

After school activities such as practice for sports or meetings for clubs mean that some students don’t get home until very late, at which point they have to do all of their homework. By the time they’re finished with all their responsibilities, a day has gone by without anytime to themselves. It isn’t unreasonable to spend an hour cultivating a hobby or watching TV at 10 or 11 PM after a stressful day at school. The reality is, that “after school time” for many students is nonexistent, which means sacrificing time asleep.

All of these factors combine to make unmotivated, caffeine dependent, zombies. Even an extra half hour of sleep before classes begin would help Pat Med students to be healthier, happier, and more successful.

 

 

 

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Why Schools Should Start Later.