Students’ mentality affected by early start

SHS start time switch from 7:15 a.m. to 7:05 a.m.

Theoretical student schedule

Graphic by Lyndsay Valadez

Theoretical student schedule

Haley Miller, Reporter

Math teacher Chelsea Hoffman, who has students that are not alert, have been late to class and sometimes don’t attend at all, does not expect the 7:05 start time to change their behaviors in test scores, which she says are not being positively affected.

“If (the students are) not really awake and focused to be able to take the notes, then they’re not really understanding what’s going on in class,” Brothers said.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), high school should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., due to a teenager’s circadian rhythm, basically an internal clock. This results in falling asleep and waking up later. When school begins earlier, it hampers “a student’s preparedness to learn,” and negatively affects mental health, physical health and driving safety, according to the AASM.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine concluded that, of two Virginia schools, the school with the delayed start time had a lower student car crash rate. In 2008, there were 850 crashes by 16-18 year old drivers in a Virginia Beach school, which started 75-80 minutes earlier than a Chesapeake school. There were 394 crashes in the Chesapeake school.

Only 9.5% of public high schools start before 7:30 a.m., as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The average is around 8:00 a.m., with about 14.4% following the recommendation to start after 8:30 a.m.

Brothers did her student teaching in a Kentucky school, which started at 8:10 a.m. According to Brothers, the athletes did not have issues with practice times, a common concern with starting later, because they could participate in the morning and the afternoon. Brothers thought the arrangement worked well.

Senior Oliver Street does not feel strongly about the new start time, saying he will “agree to disagree.” If school started later, Street wouldn’t like the school day taking up his free time. According to Street, starting earlier “is what it is,” because adults have to do the same thing in the work world.

“(An early start is) like life,” Street said. “Some people go to work at six o’clock or wake up earlier than that.”

Teenagers are supposed to get eight to 10 hours of sleep, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Street says he usually gets six. Another senior, Stephanie Johnson, says she doesn’t get enough sleep either, leaving her feeling tired and unfocused. Johnson prefers the 7:25 a.m. start time from previous years, disagreeing with 7:05 a.m.  

“I think they should just go back to 7:25,” Johnson said. “I’m more tired and the earlier we have to start, I feel like I don’t get as much sleep at night.”