Staff Standoff: The New Late Start

GREAT:

The melodious chords of a harp eased me slowly out of my sleep. I hit the snooze button on my iPhone alarm, still groggy, and glanced at the clock. It was 7:15 a.m. That’s when it really hit me: I had 30 more minutes to sleep than I did last year.

That’s great for a lot of reasons, many of them scientific.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need between 8 ½ and 9 ¼ hours of sleep each night. However, the biological sleep patterns of adolescents shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking, meaning it’s natural for teens not to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Do the math. Adolescents really shouldn’t be waking up before 7:30 a.m., and an 8:30 a.m. start time makes this possible for many Upper School students. But why does sleep matter?

Lack of sleep contributes to illness, limits your cognitive ability and leads to impatience, aggressiveness and inappropriate behavior, reports the NSF. Worst of all, lack of sleep contributes to acne. Pimples, guys.

Girls with long commutes have moaned that the later start time only puts them in the middle of the late-morning rush hour traffic. They say they don’t get any extra sleep as a result. Not so.

Before the new start time, lower schoolers and upper schoolers together created a carpool line so long that, as Head of Upper School John Ashton put it, “You could have been ordering a caramel macchiato in the Starbucks drive-thru and still have been in the carpool line.”

Now, when these students arrive at 7:35 a.m. as they always did, it takes them half as long to get into school because they aren’t stuck behind any other Upper School students, just as no Lower School students get in my way even when I’m running late at 8:20 or 8:25 a.m. I don’t miss the days of pulling up at 7:45 and still sprinting into the building at 8:02.

Yes, our days end 15 minutes later, but they’re also 15 minutes shorter, and you probably don’t notice, except maybe when you forget and think class is supposed to end at 3:45 p.m. only to be elated that you can lay your head back on the comfy library chair and sleep for 15 more minutes.

-Emily Wechsler

HATE:

I was really excited for a later start. As a teenager more sleep is always welcome. But last year, when Mr. Ashton announced we would be starting at 8:30, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

With the initial rumor saying we would start at 9 a.m., 8:30 a.m. just seemed anti-climactic.

For those extra 30 minutes in the morning, it seems to me that we’ve lost more than we’ve gained.

First, with our new class schedule, we lost bells and that, along with the adjusted class times, just led to school-wide confusion. No one knows what time to be where and for how long. Teachers are now setting alarms, marking the start and end times of classes with their microwaves, desktop computers, cellphones and watches.

Hearing the bell at the end of a particularly long day or class also gives you a sense of accomplishment and relief, a feeling now greatly diminished when we are dismissed 15 minutes after the rest of the school to absolute silence.

Second, with the new start time came the new end time and, to me, ending at 4 p.m. sets us back more than 15 minutes. 4 p.m. has the mindset of being late afternoon, almost evening. We also lose those 15 minutes to relax before our schedules start to pull us every which way.

Those 15 minutes, to me, acted like a well-deserved break between school and extra curriculars and homework. Fifteen minutes to power nap, scarf down junk food or just complain to my friends about how the amount of homework I had was just unfathomable and how stressed I was.

Now I feel like I have to start homework right away, which only leads to longer, more frequent bouts of procrastination, which in turn pushes bedtime later and later into the night. I’m getting the same amount of sleep as last year, if not less.

And probably, most importantly with the new end time, there is no way for us to make it in time for Sonic Happy Hour. We must now pay full price for our after-school sugar rush.

-Avita Anand