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OPINION: Batavia High School should start later

By Mary Shields

Do you find yourself fighting to keep your eyes open during your first block class?  Or even dreading hearing the sound of your alarm at the break of dawn? Well if so, you are not alone. The Batavia School District should discuss the issue of starting High School later so it can increase the academic success rates of students and also improve their health.

There have been various medical research projects done on this issue that support this conclusion.

“Middle and high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 am,” said The American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Batavia High School starts an hour earlier than the recommended time! Teens go through puberty and while doing so, the brain releases the sleep hormone melatonin. This results in increased drowsiness in the morning.

“Chronic sleep loss among teenagers has been associated with poor school performances, and a higher risk for depressive symptoms, obesity, cardiovascular problems, and risk-taking behaviors,” said a Time News article.

Batavia School District should take these health risks into consideration.

“We have not had an official conversation about a later start,” said Principal JoAnne Smith.

Not only would students be healthier, they would also be able to stay focused in class. This not only affects the student’s success but also teachers. Teachers can spend more time giving lectures rather than trying to get their students attention. Seattle school districts imposed a later start time this past September and have seen amazing academic results ever since.

“We all want the same thing: healthy, vibrant, and educated children who have every opportunity possible to succeed in this world,” said a Seattle school board member

Isn’t this what every district wants in their students. One solution for this debate is to flip high school and elementary school start times. Elementary schools in the district begin at 9:00 am, which is well after the high school starts. If instead, the High School began at 9, students would be able to get more sleep and perform better in each and every aspect of their life.  

Many parents in various districts are concerned about extracurricular activities.

“ Students who participate in sports, music groups, service learning clubs and other organizations typically meet for several hours after school. If school districts change their start times, these activities will be pushed to later in the day. This would make it difficult for students to participate and still have enough time to study,” said a parent on an Everett WA school district blog post.  

Although some extracurriculars will need to be pushed back, the later start time would allow various clubs to meet in the mornings. Students will also have the flexibility to finish school work in the morning, as well.

As a district, we should consider pushing back the high school’s start time. Overall, it would improve the success of the students and continue the motto, “Always learning always growing.”

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