Etched in Stone

Later start aims to improve student mental health

Maddie Booton

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Recent scientific discoveries have shown how much of a critical thing sleep is, especially for high schoolers. Data has shown time and time again why teenagers who are growing both mentally and physically need the time to sleep more, getting an average of eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep every night.

Another study concluded that teens have a difficult time functioning mentally before 8:30 a.m. and said that students need the extra time to wake up and function to their full ability. The studies showed that sleeping less can negatively affect obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even strokes. In addition, there have been strong ties to mental health being improved with more sleep, and seeing as mental health is essential to learning, the later start time will accommodate that. Not to mention, car crashes and tardies will be lessened, and an improvement on standardized tests such as the SAT will be gained by the change. The science is undeniable – there are so many benefits to increased sleep.

The Poudre School District Board of Education voted on the movement for the later start time 7-0, clearly seeing the benefits of the later start time for the high schoolers. One key point of information that was discussed during the meeting was the survey that was sent out to parents, students, teachers, and community members. This survey showed that modified option B was the most popular of the plans for change.

In addition, on the survey, people could leave comments and many were in support of the change. As Cathy Kipp from the school board said, “I am not willing to wait, and continue to risk the health, mental and physical, of our students in Poudre School District because we are afraid to move forward and make change.”

Some of the complaints about the change have and will be solved. One of the most common complaints among students and parents is after school activities and sports being pushed too late into the night. Many of these things will last longer and go further into the night, but other solutions can be put into place. Sports could meet in the morning, which could actually be beneficial because of the physical activity before school. If this turns out not to be an option, Poudre School District is prepared to pay to light fields and courts to allow for the later practices.

Another argument is that homework would be too difficult to complete after the other various activities that take place after school. However, homework could be worked on during off periods, before school, or right after activities. The Board of Education also said that they are willing to work with athletes and coaches to find the best fit for students.

A concern among some students is not being able to make it to jobs in time. Many employers rely on high schoolers to support their business; with the new start and end time, employers will be more understanding of students having to come late because all high schoolers will have to come later. Two districts in Colorado have adopted this later start time, and 46 states have also begun using this start time with success, proving that the problems can be solved and will not be insurmountable.

Change takes time – the new start times will not be the end of the world. While the new start time may seem like a big deal right now, in the long run they will provide help for many around the school.

 

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The Student News Site of Fossil Ridge High School
Later start aims to improve student mental health