Starting off the school day late

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Starting off the school day late

Photo taken by Haelo Graff.

Photo taken by Haelo Graff.

Photo taken by Haelo Graff.

Photo taken by Haelo Graff.

Natalia Selvaggio, Contributing Writer

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Teenagers are notorious for being moody, reckless and… late. More specifically, late to school. Perhaps one of the hardest things about starting the day is actually getting up. So if it’s such a struggle to wake up early, why start the school day at 7:50 a.m.? Although the early start means getting out early, what about the consequences and struggle for the students and staff?

As students, we all appreciate a little more time to sleep without worrying about waking up so early. Balancing academics, extracurriculars and personal lives makes it hard to get the recommended amount of sleep. It seems to me that starting the school day later could benefit everyone.

It’s a known fact that teenagers in middle and high school have a shift in the time they become drowsy. The circadian rhythm in our bodies changes causing us to become tired later at night and wake up later in the morning. But, this isn’t possible because we have to go to school early and many students lose sleep.

Sophomore student Virginia Meyer believes going into school after 8:00 a.m. would be a huge benefit.

“I usually only get around five or six hours of sleep depending on the night,” Meyer said. “I’m in Drama Club and when we meet after school, although I love it, it means that I have to do my homework later in the night, and I usually end up losing sleep, which ends up causing me to lose focus during classes.”

Meyer isn’t the only one who suffers from the early start time. SHS students are known for their high academic achievement and involvement in sports and other extracurriculars. For those involved in advanced courses and multiple after school activities, getting nine hours of sleep becomes harder to achieve.

Additionally, for those involved in sports, research has shown that students who get less than 8 hours sleep at night were two-thirds more likely to get injured than those who do. And over 20 percent of these injuries required a trip to the emergency room. Is starting early really worth the students’ health and safety? If school were to start even 30 minutes later, it could benefit students.

But of course, there are some students such as Sophomore Katherine Hardig who support the early start time.

“The later we start in the day, the less hours of daylight we have after school,” Hardig said. “Also, we know kids are going to stay up late, regardless of the time schools starts. So really, only the sleep schedule would shift, not the amount of sleep you get.”

Most high schools don’t start after 9:00 a.m., so I’m not suggesting we start hours later. Like I said, even 30 minutes would help. In fact, the Solon Middle School (SMS) starts at 8:40 a.m. and gets out at 3:30 p.m. That’s not even an hour difference so there isn’t a lot of daylight lost. And if students are going to stay up late, why not just give them more time in the morning? Additional time can also help many staff members who live far away and have to wake up even earlier than students.

However, Solon Director of Communication Tamara Strom shares a different view.

“Our Solon High School start time is not actually that early in comparison with other high schools in the area,” Strom said. “For example, Twinsburg High School starts at 7:15 a.m., Hudson High School starts at 7:28 a.m., Mayfield High School starts at 7:35 a.m., and Chagrin Falls High School starts at 7:40 a.m.”

But SHS still starts before 8:00 a.m. and it’s not the only high school to do so. Clearly, many high schools have a problem of starting school too early.  If SMS already has a more reasonable start time, why not SHS? It would make more sense that high school students went in later due to workload compared to middle school.

SHS Principal Erin Short believes that there isn’t a way to work out a later start time.

“I know there are studies that say high school should start later,” Short said. “However, it is not as simple as just changing the high school time alone since all of our buildings are connected in terms of bus schedules. Additionally, we have to be cognizant of athletic schedules.”

I think the students and staffs well-being is important enough to figure out a way to start the school day a bit later. Because we’re waking up much earlier than 7:50 a.m. For some students, the bus routes start as early as 6:35 a.m. And teachers come in even earlier, especially for those who live far from Solon who also have their own families to take care of. Moreover, athletes can catch up on sleep and perform better during games and practice.

On top of that, teenagers’ behavior is at risk. A study in 2015 showed that students who don’t get the required amount of sleep are more likely to engage in dangerous choices like drinking, drug abuse, and higher suicide rates. And with increased drowsiness, teenagers who are driving are at a higher risk of injuring themselves and other drivers.

Problems like scheduling, daylight hours and extracurriculars are really only minor problems that are easily fixed. Starting school just half an hour earlier isn’t losing much time after school. It won’t make after school activities run too long. And scheduling can easily be rearranged to work. Keep in mind that switching to a later start time is for the health and convenience of the students and staff. It only makes sense that the school starts later.

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