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WCPSS: Time For a Change

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Time for a change.

Time for a change.

Sonja Langford, Wikimedia Commons

Sonja Langford, Wikimedia Commons

Time for a change.

Sonia Rao, Opinion Editor

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Green Hope students welcomed the first school day of 2018 by sleeping in an extra two hours, thanks to a county-wide two hour delay caused by frigid temperatures.  However, extreme weather should not be the sole reason that students are granted extra sleep in the mornings.  

Countless studies have proven that growing teenagers need at least 9 ¼ hours of sleep every night (although the average teen gets less than seven).  There are many serious consequences of sleep deprivation that schools seem to be ignoring as they pile on hours of homework and extracurricular activities, in addition to the bell schedule that forces students to wake up in the early hours of the morning.  Sleep deprivation impairs teenagers’ ability to be alert, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress, and retain information.  In addition, sleep-deprived teens can suffer from risky behaviors such as drowsy driving, emotional/behavioral problems, depression, poor impulse control, and impaired decision-making, to name just a few of many problems.  In a 2008 study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, crash rates in a school district fell by 16.5% after the district began to start school only one hour later.

With current school schedules, it is nearly impossible for teens to get the recommended amount of sleep.  According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), middle and high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.  This is over an hour later than the start time of Green Hope High School at 7:25 a.m.  Although a time change like the one described above seems drastic, later school start times are necessary for teens to get the required amount of sleep.  Teenagers are wired to stay up late, and therefore need to sleep later into the morning to compensate for any lost hours.  This is because as teens go through puberty, their brains produce melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, on a delayed schedule, making it difficult for them to feel drowsy before 11 p.m.  According to the AASM, a teenager who fell asleep at 11 p.m would need to sleep until at least 7:30 a.m. to achieve a sufficient amount of sleep.

Some argue that later school start times would interfere with extracurricular activities such as sports, dance classes, or music lessons. However, this would not be a problem if later start and end times were a countywide policy.  In addition, some sports and extracurriculars could practice in the mornings- Green Hope’s swim team already does.  Most clubs meet during lunch, so they would not be affected by such a change.  Wake County would not be the first county in North Carolina to make a change to school start times, either.  In 2015, Durham County announced they were implementing a change to push high school start times back an hour-and-a-half later.  Now, most schools in Durham County start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

With all of this information, it is obvious that later school times would be beneficial to everyone in Wake County, including students, teachers, janitors, administrators, and the parents that have to drive their children to school every morning.  Hopefully the Wake County Public School System will make the changes necessary to ensure their students get the rest they need in order to fulfill their greatest potentials.  

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The Official Student News of Green Hope High School
WCPSS: Time For a Change