The pros and cons of late starts

Lily Tiong, Writer

Woken up by the sound of alarm, many students trudge out of bed at the crack of dawn yet again and starts to get ready for school after a late night of extracurricular activities and homework. Fenton, along with many other schools in the county have yet to adopt late starts. However, there are a few who have introduced late starts into their 2017-2018 school year schedules, like Ann Arbor.

“Late starts are only available to our high school students,” Ann Arbor superintendent’s assistant JoAnn Emmendorfer said. “We decided to offer late starts because based off research, we learned that adolescents need more sleep. We offer a seven class period day in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and as students only need to take six classes, they could arrange their schedule to start second period at 8:49 a.m., as opposed to 7:45 a.m. when first period begins. As this is only our first year offering late starts, we have yet to collect data regarding how it affects a students attendance or grades. Because some students did not have transportation available to get to school later, we started to offer a school bus service for those wishing to start second period.”

With just starting to offer late starts in Ann Arbor, all grade levels are not open to this new opportunity. Regardless of what time school starts, students are suggested to get 9.25 hours of sleep each night in order to learn to the best of their ability.

“Not getting enough sleep results in a lack of concentration and ability to focus. Lack of sleep can affect your moods and your memory,” Psychology teacher Jill Starr said. “I see both pros and cons of a later start to the school day. On one hand, studies show how teenagers are not getting enough sleep and the detrimental effects because of this. On the other hand, will starting the school day later just push back all the activities a student does and not increase their time of sleep? Many high school students participate in after school activities and jobs that would then get pushed later, which would push homework later, and cause students to go to sleep even later than they were.”

Pushing the school day later would then affect the rest of a students schedule even later than it was before. Fenton, along with many other schools in Genesee county have not yet started to offer late starts for any students, even in high school.

“Starting the high school day later might mean the elementary middle school schedules would have to start or earlier than the high school,” principal Mark Suchowski said. “There are benefits for students in grades 9-12 if they can regularly start their school day later, say closer to 9 a.m. Students aged 14-18 benefit when their school day matches their natural sleep cycle, which is later to rise for most. Schools that make this change to their daily high school schedules have reported better attendance, including fewer tardies. Students also report feeling more alert and well rested during the school day.”

Being more alert during class could mean a greater chance of fully understanding the concepts that a student is being taught.

“The thought of late starts in Fenton have come up but, the biggest challenge, and idea holding us back actually offering it, is transportation,” Suchowski said. “In a very limited way, Fenton does offer late starts in April for freshman, sophomores, and seniors while juniors are testing”

The thought of late starts is appealing to many students, but changing a high school’s daily schedule may be more complicated than meets the eye. A good night’s sleep is always encouraged to help a student get the best out of their education.