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Elementary and High School Should Switch Times

Jami Citko, Staff

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All high school students are familiar with the struggle involved in simply getting up in the morning. Whether your alarm is set for 5 AM or 7 AM, picking yourself up and rolling out of bed feels like the most difficult task in the world when it has to be done so early, and it doesn’t get better when you’re expected to start using your full brain power at only 7:45 AM. 

One possible solution is to switch the start times of elementary and high schools. 

Younger children tend to naturally wake up earlier than teenagers and adults, and they are able to have more energy early in the morning; however, nearby elementary schools don’t start until 8:40 AM or 9:15 AM while CHS starts at 7:45 AM. 

Many CHS students believe that high school students should not be required to wake up so early, especially compared to elementary school children who tend to wake up earlier and do not need as much time to get ready. 

“My elementary school students wake up…they are ready for school, while I’m over here waddling out of bed at 8 o’clock wondering if I should even go to school anymore,” junior Lynny Luu described. 

Circadian rhythms, or sleep-wake cycles, during puberty lie at the heart of this struggle. According to the National Children’s Hospital, puberty causes a shift in circadian rhythms that makes it difficult for teenagers to fall asleep until around 11 PM. However, teenagers “need between 9 and 9 ½ hours” of sleep. This makes it nearly impossible for most students to get the amount of sleep they need during the school week. 

The fact that high schoolers often go to sleep much later than elementary schoolers is also caused by other things, such as the amount of work assigned in high school compared to elementary school. 

“Elementary school kids have less homework so they don’t have to work as late as high schoolers do,” explained junior Vicah Blair. “”We’re put under so much stress that causing us to wake up so early negatively impacts us even more. High school students aren’t getting as much sleep as they need, which is a huge issue because it’s making them not work at their highest ability.” 

Some students believe that they personally would perform better if they started school later, including freshman Josh Holtzapple. 

“I think it would help me focus more first period,” Holtzapple expressed. 

Some school systems across the country actually have implemented this change and observed a significant improvement in student performance. 

According to Scientific American, some of these schools have shown that “after one semester, when school began at 8:35 a.m. or later, grades earned in math, English, science and social studies typically rose a quarter step—for example, up halfway from B to B+.” 

Though most students are in favor of starting at a later time and research supports it, this change will likely not happen due to scheduling conflicts it will cause. 

“It has not received much consideration from the BCPS Board of Ed,” remarks CHS principal Matthew Ames. 

One of the main scheduling conflicts concerns the changing of the timing of athletic events and the effect of these changes on students. 

“If school lets out later for high school students, then travel to games takes longer and games start later which then causes an issue with our student athletes’ return time to school after games,” Ames explains. 

Another concern may be “older siblings needing to watch younger siblings, including getting them off the buses in the afternoon,” assistant principal Anne Kress said. 

High school students would greatly benefit from the opportunity to start school later. However, the conflicts caused by this change are too great for it to really be considered an option, and it will likely not be instituted in the near future. 

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The Student News Site of Catonsville High School.
Elementary and High School Should Switch Times