The shift in school start times

Natalie Dixon

Contributing Writer

   Every high school student has been in this situation: homework in one hand, coffee in the other, racing to the bus or car only to arrive late to first period.

   A large number of students, parents, and administrators don’t blame careless adolescents or early morning traffic for frequent and numerous tardies, but instead look at the starting time for schools.

   In the early 1990’s, pediatricians and physicians advised schools to eliminate early starting hours for teenagers, according to schoolstarttime.org.

   However, Dana Clarke, a Spanish and gym instructor at Douglas Anderson (DA), says she doesn’t get any sleep deprived students. In fact, many have a good deal of energy when it comes to different physical activities.

   “[We start with] at least 20 minutes of walking or staying active,” said Clarke.  As a St. John’s county resident and mother of two students, where the starting time for high schools was once 7:50, Clarke has no issue with DA’s schedule.

   “I honestly think switching would do more damage than good,” said Clarke. “Since so many kids have jobs and activities after school, I don’t think getting out later would be good.” As for the students at DA, one disagrees with this sentiment.

   “Maybe starting an hour later would be more suitable,” said Olive Wahby, DA sophomore class president. “Because Douglas Anderson’s student body is from all around Jacksonville and beyond. It takes longer for some students to get to and from school…I think students might feel more energized in the morning, but would start to lose it by the end.”

   Kathy Anderson, a guidance counselor at DA, said her students come to her asking for help in time management and scheduling.

   “A fair amount of students are looking for assistance in their work,” said Anderson, along with the other guidance counselors, who often give their students the “168 Hour Plan”, or “168 Hours” sheet, a detailed plan that helps students space out their activities such as eating, sleep, studying, socializing and exercise into 168 hours, the amount of hours in one week.

   Once a student has added up all of the hours which they devote to each activity, they can see if it meets 168 hours, or if it goes over that. If their time exceed that, Anderson recommends making a to-do list, a must-do list, and a should-do or want-to-do list. Students should only have around four to five things on their to-do list.

   For students struggling with school, sleep, and other activities, Anderson offers advice. “Self-care is key. A healthy body is a healthy mind, and that includes sleep,” said Anderson.

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