Ohio lawmakers consider passing later school start time legislation

The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.

by Ashleigh Owens, Opinion Editor

Imagine waking up for school before the sun is out and groggily getting out of bed.  You’re too tired to eat a proper breakfast, and don’t have time anyway. By the time you arrive at school you are too tired to learn and be productive.  After school is finally over you’re busy with sports and other extracurriculars, not to mention hours of homework, and don’t get to sleep until far too late.  The next day you have to get up and do it all over again and by the end of the week you’re so tired you can’t even sleep because your mind is racing with due dates, tests, and trying to make time in your life for some fun.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something students these days have to imagine.  This is the reality of being a student today, and it’s not a pleasant one.  As a high school student myself, I personally experience this every school day.  I can attest that it is draining and has a negative impact on all aspects of a student’s life.

 I wanted to hear some stories of actually Hilliard Bradley students and what they think about starting school later, so I set out to ask some for myself.

 I know I am always hearing other students complain about how tired they are, so I started there.  I talked to Paige Beasley (11) who when asked if she thought school should start later said that “Yes.  It would greatly affect the energy levels that kids have at the schools, make the overall environment better, and positively impact the grade levels of kids who don’t get enough sleep”.  This is a great point, since students are unable to focus as well during class and just be an overall contributor to their school when they are tired constantly. I also talked to Lauren Drexel (9) who’s mom, Leslie Drexel, has done some work with this bill at the local level.  Lauren explained that “Yes they should start later. Kids would be more rested, more alert and have a better attitude. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) both agree that school shouldn’t start before 8:30”. She also stated that teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night, which is almost impossible with such early start times.

Not everyone, even students, thinks start times should be changed though.  Abigail Hemstreet (11) stated that “I don’t think I get enough sleep, but I don’t think it’s with when school starts, I think it’s with after school activities and how much homework teachers give us along with things your family makes you do”.  This is definitely a great point that I think many students would agree with. Going to bed late, due to things that Abigail explained, makes early start times almost unbearable. Getting home too late for extracurriculars and students just choosing to go to bed later is a common concern for not changing start times.

Next, I went to the teacher’s to get their thoughts.  Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Forquer, explained that she does experience students being tired in class, but said she felt like it affected all of her classes, not just her earlier ones.  Mrs. Forquer made the point that if students would create more of a schedule for themselves many of the issues would be solved or at least lessened by saying “I think the student has to make a conscious effort to get to bed at a time that will allow them optimal sleep.  Bed by 10. Up at 6. Boom…that’s 8 hours of sleep.”  This is a good point as many days I know that I can get to bed by around 10, however sometimes this is just not possible. Overall, teachers seem to think that changing start times would just cause students to go to bed later and be trading one problem for another.

If you’re one of the many students exhausted from our extremely early start times unfortunately chances are that even if start times are pushed back, this won’t happen for a little while.  So until then, figure out what works for you and help you be successful. Try to get to bed early, work on time management, use techniques that help you fall asleep easier and do your part to make things change for the better!