Stress under sleep proposal


Phuong Nguyen

Starting high school later creates the issue of students not finishing homework on time.


High school students are one step closer to getting more sleep under an approved FCPS proposal to make the changes a reality.

On April 30, the Children’s National Medical Center presented four start time options at a FCPS School Board meeting for consideration.

One of the options includes starting high school at 9:15 a.m. and dismissing at 4:05 p.m. starting in the fall of 2015. Meanwhile, FCPS plans to move middle school start times to 8:20-8:30 a.m. and elementary start times as early as 7:40 a.m.

Implementing any one of the plans requires the purchase of new buses at a cost of $2.7 to $7.6 million.

School Board members are projected to cast votes on the four options in the fall.

Extra sleep looks very tempting, considering the fact that many students have to manage challenging courses and numerous extracurricular activities.

Since the amount of hours in the school day will remain the same, students will start their homework routine late and go to sleep late.

There will be no change in the amount of sleep, as regular schedules are simply shifted ahead one to two hours.  This poses a major detriment to students’ normal schedules.

Since this is the case, there is no reason for FCPS to impose a later start time.

Across FCPS, sports, clubs and organizations will be hampered by the start time changes.

Whether joining for fun or to boost up college applications, participation in extracurricular activities like sports, music and volunteer work is expected of students. With extracurricular activities, coupled with the mountain of homework students lug home every day, there isn’t enough time to get everything completed.

No one knows this better than rising junior IB Diploma students, who will be some of the most affected by the changing start times.

With after school classes such as Theory of Knowledge, clubs and piles IB homework, IB Diploma candidates will struggle to manage school and sleep. Candidates expect around three to five hours of homework a night.

According to IB Coordinator Shirley Campbell, the senior class  in the fall of 2015 will contain the greatest amount of IB Diploma candidates AHS has seen in years. Official numbers are projected to surpass a current total of 38 graduating seniors and 45 rising seniors.

These future IB students could use extra sleep, but a delayed start time would hardly help. This is because practices for sports, music and arts extracurriculars as well as club meetings take up lots of time.

Most sports practices end around 5 p.m. Under the proposal, most students will not get home until after 6 p.m.

Other activities such as AHS Theater are known for having late nights until 10-11 p.m. for dress rehearsals. With everything in the school day set back two hours, these students have no choice but to remain in school until after midnight to meet rehearsal schedules. This should be illegal and not to mention inhumane.

At AHS, dislike for later start times has prompted sophomore Jennifer Kang to start a petition against the proposals. A total of 63 signatures have been collected so far by students and teachers.

In addition, starting school at later times will only encourage students to procrastinate.

Right now there is plenty of time to participate in sports, clubs, spend time with friends and do homework, if time is managed well.

For students that do not possess adequate time management skills, starting school later will not change a thing.  Students will be tricked into believing that they have extra time to complete their assignments.

Moreover, the proposal will negatively affect transportation to and from school. Many students are dropped off at school just in time for parents to drive to work. Moving start times back will mean that students are unable to receive rides to school. This will cause more dependence on buses as well as the need to raise transportation costs

With that in mind, later start times call for the purchases of new buses. The traffic congested roads in the area are horrific. Adding more buses will lead to chaos on the roads for other drivers, teachers and students.

Even school board officials have expressed concerns about the high cost, citing cost and budget deficits.

 With all the anxiety for students trying to balance classes and extracurricular activities, it’s not worth it to waste time and money on a useless plan that will not benefit the well-being of students.

 If the clock isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it.