My day begins on the Redeye Bus. It leaves at 6:45 a.m. That means I have to wake up at 6 a.m. and be out the door 30 minutes later. Many students, including myself, don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning, so instead we are drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks, which gets us through first period. An hour later, however, we’re malnourished and sleepy. By the time lunch rolls around, we’re starving and about ready to pass out. This isn’t what you want the future generation to remember from their teenage years, is it? Most adults with a 9-5 job don’t get up this early.
Ever wonder what the detriments are like for students when they get up this early? Fatigue, being grumpy, and decreased productivity in school are the most obvious ones. But nothing about being tired in the morning could kill you, right? As it turns out, statistically, driving while being tired is even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Juniors and seniors who drive to school every day are in serious danger of crashing into a tree on the side of the road.
Plus, it’s been proven that in teenagers, melatonin, the “sleep chemical” starts being produced around 10 p.m. That’s not surprising; when you were a teenager staying up later than 10 p.m. was probably the norm. However, this chemical doesn’t stop being produced until around 8 a.m., so having an alarm wake you up at 5:45 a.m. throws everything off.
There are two major reasons why school couldn’t start and end later with classes being the same length of time. The first is extra curricular activities. Varsity sports, for example, get out of school at five, so if school got pushed back two hours they would end at seven, which would not work for most people. I know that sports and other after-school activities are not going to be permanently canceled just so that us students can get up later. The other primary reason school couldn’t get pushed back is because some students have to get home to watch their younger siblings after school. If school was pushed back, younger siblings would be home alone, and I’m sure parents wouldn’t appreciate that.
So how can this issue be resolved? I have a reasonable compromise that should satisfy the students, parents, coaches, and the Board of Education. If five minutes could be docked from every class, it would allow school to start 45 minutes later, at 8:25 a.m. That would enable us to wake up closer to 7 a.m. or even 7:30 a.m., which I’m sure everyone would appreciate. And having five less minutes in each class likely wouldn’t be a problem for the teachers. Since the students are getting more sleep, they’ll be more focused in school, meaning teachers could teach at a faster pace. What’s really great about this plan is that school won’t get out any later, so sports won’t be affected at all.
Its obvious how tired we are in the morning. Just visit any class, middle or High School, during first period. If everyone got that extra 45 minutes of sleep, I guarantee test scores on the Common Core tests will go up, as well as almost everyone’s GPA. Students will have more energy to do better in sports. I believe everyone will appreciate having more sleep.++
Satch Waldman is in the 8th grade at Onteora.