[Oct. 2016 Opinions] The push to sleep in–Why Staples High School needs to start later

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By Jason Streiter ’17

 

At 6:30 a.m., my alarm goes off. It’s another day of school. In the world outside of Staples High School, that would sound pretty early; however, 6:30 is actually late for many students, as I know people who wake up at 4:30 to prepare for the day. As I roll out of bed, I shower, brush my teeth and drive to school, still half asleep, drifting over the yellow line into the opposite lane where I often have to abruptly swerve back to avoid an accident.

Last year the Westport Board Of Education (BOE) disapproved a later start time for Staples, citing that the schedules of our sports teams would not be able to match with those of our opponents; however, with the swing being made towards later start times in other districts, the BOE will be forced to make a new argument. I know that if we fight for a later start, the BOE won’t be able to fight back.

As I doze off in classes, my teachers wake me up. “Jason, why are you tired? It’s Monday,” my teachers say. “Jason, why are you tired? It’s Friday.” It doesn’t matter what day it is. Every day I’m just tired, because I can’t go to sleep until late and I have to get up too early.

Studies from nationwidechildrens.org and sleepfoundation.org show that the internal clock of adolescents is moved back by about two hours during puberty, meaning they usually can’t fall alseep until 11 p.m. Additionally, the studies indicate that between eight and ten hours of sleep is needed at night, meaning that teens shouldn’t be waking up any earlier than 7 in the morning.

Other schools in the area have already started the push for a later start. Wilton High School starts at 8:30 and Greenwich Public Schools have created an ad hoc committee in order to create their plan for a later start time in the future.

As teenagers, we have stress and exhaustion that we can’t control. Going through growth spurts and all the other unfortunate and fortunate circumstances of adolescence are physically and mentally draining. The stress of growing up, while also trying to remain young, takes a physical toll on our bodies, and we are incapable of staying awake and alert at times. We are so exhausted simply from human nature. The same studies from above show that mood, behavior, cognitive ability and academic performance are affected by exhaustion and lack of sleep.

Students aren’t the only people affected by early start times. Most teachers live outside of Westport, yet they are required to be at school before us. Some teachers have to wake up before 5:00 a.m. They have to sleep too. Some have young children. How can they be expected to get their children to day-care that early?

As Staples is beginning a new era under Principal James D’Amico and Superintendent Dr. Colleen Palmer, the time has come for change. We must start each day of our new era later for everyone’s benefit.

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