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HIGH SCHOOL STARTING

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it is the rare student who doesn't find it diffcult to get out of bed  in the morning. Recent high school grad Jeff Varley strategically  directs the following essay proposing later high school starting times  to an audience of his peers-fellow later risers--while also offering  sound evidence to sway adult readers who make school-scheduing  decisions. Verley even shows how taxpayers in community where high  school students live u,would benefit from later strating times no one  can accuse him ignoring the greater goodl With an attention' getting  introduction, an alarmingly long list of the problems caused by  sleepiness among high school students, and a solution that's un'  cxpectcdll, simprlc--and c\/cn accounts fbr the sevcral obstacles that  might stand in its way-Varlcy's proposal is unlikcly to put you to  sleep, wether you're an early bird or not. 

Ah, sweet memories of high school: waking up at 6:30 in the morning,  stumbling into the bathroom to get ready for the day, dressing while  still half asleep, rnunching a piece of toast while listening to our  parents tell us that if we just went to bed earlier we wouldn't be so  sleepy in the morning (or worse, listening to our parents call us lazy),  catching the bus as the sun began to top the trees, and wandering into  our 6rst-period classes me rely to lay our head down on our desks to  dose of1 for the next fifty,-five minutes. 

We could never seem to catch up on our sleep, especially during the  week. And even if we followed our parents' advice and tried going to bed  earlier, the earlier bedtime did not make much, if any, difference in  how awake we were the next morning. In"fact, for those of us who tried  going to bed earlier, we generally just lay there until l0:30 or I l:00  before finally going to sleep. The next school morning, we were still as  tire d as when we had gone to bed later. 

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Yet recent studies provide evidence that the sleep patter's for   adolescents are significantly different from  those of both young  children and adults. Studies. of sleep parterns by Mary Carskadon  professor.of psychiatry and human behavior at the Br.own University  School of medicine and director of sleep and chronobiology Research at E  P' Bradley Hospital in East providence , Rhode island revealed that  adolescents as opposed to younger children or adults, actually function'  better when they go to '
 bed later and awake later. Professor: carskadon's research demonstrates  that most adolescents,biological clocks are naturally set to a  different patrern from, the clocks of most children and adults. 

     The timing of the need for sleep also shows biological changes  as children reach puberty,  Mclatoin, a hormone produce the pineal  gland. is a indicator for the biological clock that infuences wake/Sleep  cycles. carcefully controlled studies found that ..''more mature  adolescents had a later timing of the termination  of melatorin  secretion" (carskadon 351). This indicates that post-pubescent, teen  have a biological need to sleep later in the morning. The impact of-  forcing people to try be alert when every nerve in their body is 

begging for more sleep, can only be lcgari,',c.this discovery has a  major impact on high school student who are required to wake up erarly  in order to arrive at school
 early, for asking teens to learn a complex subject, such as math, science, or English-, before the brain is awake is  . 

    Tardiness, poor grades, depression, automobile accidents, after,  school on-the-job accidents, and  general lethargy have all been  litftied as the consequences of insufficient sleep among high school  students. Yet school districts persist in retaining high school  strarting times that begin early in The morning usally around, 7:30 a.m.  but such an early starting time does not benefit the students for whom  the educational system is supposedly structured. How do we reslove the  conflict of early high school starting times versus sleeping student?; 

     An obvious solution would be to start high school class later in  the morning. A later starting time for high  schools can be a contro-  versial proposal if all of the affected parties are not consulted and  kept informed Kyla wahlstrom of the Center for Applied Research and  Educational Improvement at the university of Minnesota pointed out that  '"changing a school's starting time provokes the same kind of emotional  reaction from stakeholders as closing a school or changing a school's  attendance area" (wahlstrom 346). presumably.

  I24 Proposing a solution

if parents and other interested parries knew about Carskadon's  research, they would be more willing to consider changing the start time  for high school. 

       Some schools have recognized the benefits of later: starling  times and have implemented a new schedule . One such school is located  in eastern Minnesota. In 1996, the Edina Public School District pushed  back the start time for I ,400 high school students from 7 '.25 to 8 :30  am Edina Public School District Superintendent Kenneth Dragseth reports  that the later schedule has led to better grades, fewer behaioral  problems, and a better'rested student body (Dragseth). Dragseth's  anecdotal evidence that better-rested students perform better is  supported by research performed by psychologists at the College of the  Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Working with Carskadon, the  psychologists "surveyed more than 3,I20 Providence (Rhode Island] area  high school students and found students who got A's and B's averaged  about 35 minutes more sleep on both weeknights and weekends than  students who received D's's and F's" 

(Bettelheim 557).
 In addition to better grades, other positive effects cited by  researchers include better attendance, fewer tardies, far fewer students  falling asleep at their desks, more alert students more engaged in the  learning process, less depression, fewer problems at home and among  friends, enhanced school atmosphere, and fewer illnesses (Lawton;  Wahlstrom and Taylor). With so many benefits to starting high school  classes later, why haven't more districts done sol 

One of the most common concerns comes from participants in  extracurricular activities. If practices currently often run until 8 or 9  p nr. with a school day that begins at7:30 a.m", what will happer-r if  school starts an hour later. This is a legitimate concern that would  need to be addressed on a team-by-team or group-by-group basis" Some  practice sessions could be held immediately after class in the early  afternoon. Some activities could convene after a short dinner break. If  these activities began earlier in the evening, they could be finished  sooner in the evening. The one factor every coach or sponsor would have  to consider is how important any extracurricular activity is in relation  to the primary mission of the school, which, of course is learning and  education, not sports or clubs. 

Availability of buses is another concern for many school districts  when any discussion of changing schedules begins. School officials in  Montgomery Country, Maryland, estimate it would cost $31 million to 

buy enough buses to accommodate later start times fbr high school  without inconveniencing elementary and middle school students  (Bettelheirn 557). minneapolis, which buses 90 percent of the 50,000  students in the school district solved the transportation' problems  caused by starring high school classes later by starting the grade  school classes earlier (Lawton). This has the added benefits of brining  younger children to school at a time when many .of the are most alert  and decreasing the need for before-school child care for these students  (Reiss; Lawton). With careful planning and scheduling, the  transportation tribulations can be addressed in cost-effective ways.
   As the world we live in becomes ever more complex, education becomes  increasingly important. It is important that the time spent on education  be spent as effectively as possible. ]ames Maas, a psy- 

chologist at Cornell University, points out that ,.people  are'begining to realize it doesn't make sense to pay heavy school taxes  when the audience you're teaching is assleep" (qtd. in Bettetheim 556).  it is time to consider school schedules that provide the best education  at times that are most appropriate to the students. 

WORKS CITED 

Ilettelheim, Adriel. "Slcep Deprivarion." ()ellesearcher g.24 ( l99g): SSS 62 Print. 

carskadon, N{ary A' "when worrds coilidc: Adolesccnt Nccci ftrr sreep  vcr, sus socieral Dema.ds." pbi Detta lb.ppan Jan. 1999: 34g.-53.  Irri'r, 

Dragsedr, l(e'neth A. "A Minneapolis subuib Rcaps Frarrv Bc'e6ts  fr-onr a [,atc stitrt." school Advnini.strator. Arner-ica' Assciciari'rr  of scho.l Acl.rinis_ trators) Mar. 1999. Web. 22 Mar. 2003. 

I-awton, Nlillicent. "Forwhonr thc Bell rolls.,, School  Adyninistratot, Amcricir. Association of school Adrninistrators, Mar.  1999 wcb. 22 Mat. 200J. 

Reiss, llmrny. "Wakc-up Call o' i(cls' Biological Clocks.,, NEA T.od.ay 6 6 (1998): 19. Print. 

Wahlstrom, Kyla L "The Prickll, Poliucs of School Starting l.imcs ', pht Dtlta Iiappan8O ( t999): 345. 47 print. 

wahlstrom, Kyla I-., and John s. Tayror. '.Sleep Research  

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