Students Rejoice Over Even Earlier School Start Times


Allderdice students rejoicing over even earlier start times!

School start times are a common point of contention in school districts across the country. Many recent studies have found that most teenagers are chronically sleep deprived as a result of many factors, but particularly school start times. As research and studies showing the harmful effects of sleep deprivation on adolescents continue to emerge, some schools are making the move towards later start times. However, Allderdice is making bold moves in the other direction, with shockingly positive outcomes.

Recently, Allderdice shifted its 7:35 start time twenty minutes earlier, requiring students to be in their homerooms at 7:15 to be marked as on time. Initially, this move was harshly criticized. An anonymous student commented on this situation saying, “At first, I was furious. I was already so tired in the mornings and I thought this change was only going to make it worse.” However, their anger didn’t last. “But, after a while with this new start time I think I’m starting to come around.”

This change of heart was not uncommon. Several other students had similar opinions, one going so far as to say, “I wasn’t onboard at first, but now I want start times to be even earlier.” According to rumors circling the district, they might not have to wait long.

To get a better picture of the future of Allderdice school start times, we talked to an anonymous school official who shed some light on the situation. “I can’t confirm or guarantee anything, but even earlier start times are looking more and more likely with each passing day.” When asked about the motivations for these start time changes, they answered “It has been, and always will be, about the students. When we make any changes here at Allderdice, we do it because of them.” They elaborated on this response by saying, “We’ve found countless ways earlier start times benefit students. Most importantly, earlier start times decrease stigma and improve student behavior.”

According to this informant, unlike later start times, earlier start times are a way that schools can show support for their students. “Making start times later just makes the problem worse. The reality is that most students are always going to be sleep deprived. It’s only when schools can accept that and embrace it, that things can improve.” This is one reason that Allderdice pushes so hard for these earlier start times. “When start times are earlier, the school projects the message that sleep deprivation is nothing to be ashamed of, and instead sleep deprived students should be proud.” 

Actions speak louder than words, and testimonials show just how true that is in a school environment. A jaded junior told us, “I used to be ashamed of getting only three or four hours of sleep a night, but with these earlier start times, it feels like the school is telling me that it’s okay to be who I am.”

 A sleepy senior said “I used to try hiding the dark circles under my eyes. I would even force myself to go to bed earlier in an attempt to be less sleep deprived, but now I don’t feel that pressure anymore.”

However, reducing stigma was not the only reason cited for earlier start times. Improved student behavior was another important factor. The anonymous school official told us, “We’ve looked at a lot of research into school start times and their effects on student behavior, and it all points to one thing: exhausted students behave better. The studies did not clarify if the students were awake or not, but facts are facts.” The official told us that the reasons behind this are fairly complicated, but the data is convincing. “Simply put, when students are tired, they have less energy to act out, be disruptive, and get aggressive. This means more learning and a safer environment.”

This sentiment is mirrored by students who share similar beliefs. A fatigued freshman said, “I’ve only been at Allderdice since they changed the start times and I’m glad. I feel so much safer knowing that basically nobody has enough energy to start a fight. A lot of us don’t have energy to do our work either, but you win some, you lose some.”

A sluggish senior agrees, adding that, “With these new start times I’m learning so much more because the kids who used to cause disruptions in my classes are now always asleep.”

Despite all these benefits, the school has been receiving backlash for their decisions. The official told us, “Nearly all of the complaints come from parents. They don’t understand how important these earlier start times are.” Even so, Allderdice has no plans of caving to these criticisms. “Like I said, it’s all for the students, and if improving the lives of students comes at the cost of angering parents, it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.” 

As the end of the year draws closer, some students are wondering what the start time situation is going to look like next year. PPS officials hope to have school start time be before the sun rises, to create some beautiful morning memories. Debates over exact time supposedly include talk of hours nearer to 4 AM. “You’ll have to wait and see,” the official told us, “but we’re trying our hardest and we are optimistic we can get the start times even earlier.” It is unclear what next year will bring in terms of start times, but students are certainly excited to find out.