It’s time to stop pressing the snooze button on school start times

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It’s time to stop pressing the snooze button on school start times

Fritz Schemel, Sports Editor

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Every night, anytime between 10:30 p.m. and 12 a.m., or sometimes even later, I flick off my light, exhausted from the loads of homework, ready to get some rest.

But it’s not possible for that rest to come.

Less than seven hours later, my alarm blares, alerting me that it’s time to get up out of the comfort of my bed, and get ready for the school day.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the optimal sleep time for teens is 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night. In the same study, it is said that today’s teenagers have a difficult time falling asleep before 11 p.m.

With the first bell at 7:30 a.m., I find that it’s nearly impossible for me, along with countless other Staples students, to get the rest I need.

And it’s not as though other schools aren’t pushing back their start times. In the 2011-12 academic year, 57.5 percent of public high schools in the United States started at 8:00 a.m. or later, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

One town that was one of the first to push back the first bell, bordering town Wilton, garnered national attention for swapping the high school and upper elementary school start times in the fall of 2003, resulting in the high school start time being pushed back to 8:15 a.m.

A major argument against later start times is the effect it could have on sports.

But nearby Wilton has shown that there is a minimal effect, if one at all, on sports. In the same school year that the school start time was pushed back, 2003-04, the boys’ lacrosse team captured the State Division I Championship, and athletic participation continued to increase, according to The National Sleep Foundation.

Of course, completely shifting a way of life that has been set in stone for years in Westport will be difficult. But by following the model of Wilton, and swapping the start times of elementary schools and Staples, sports teams will not suffer, and academics will rise.

Remodeling the everyday schedule of an entire school district is undoubtedly difficult, but so is change.

It’s time Westport begins to think about change.

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