Push for later start intensifies

Students and adults weigh in on what varied start time would entail at GBHS


GBT.org file illustration

A later school start theoretically means more sleep for students.

 Not many high school students find waking up early desirable. But students rising every weekday, even before the sun does, might be coming to an end.

  Senate Bill 328 proposes that all middle schools and high schools in the state of California will be required to begin the school day no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

  Parents and students alike are both excited and hesitant about what these changes will bring.

  “My initial reaction to the change would be one of relief because many high schoolers feel that they don’t get enough sleep,” said Granite Bay High senior and cross country athlete Jason Dell’Orto. “And when you throw in before-school sports, things can get very difficult.”

  Like Dell’Orto, many students find it strenuous to wake up for school – and parents are realizing these effects as well.

  “My concern is more my kid’s health and nutrition, as studies show teenagers need more sleep,” said Dana Taheri, mother of sophomore Roxana Taheri.

 Teens are constantly running around, and spending seven-hour days in the classroom, then going to a wide variety of after-school activities and hurrying home to get started on homework can leave students feeling frazzled.

  To keep their busy minds’ focused on these tasks requires an adequate amount of sleep.

  “Having her wake up early has her more stressed out,” Taheri said.

  Dell’ Orto found it especially hard to manage homework and sports when he was running on little rest.

  He has noticed, based on the conditions teens are in, the expectations are too high.

 “Most teens are in the period of their lives where they need the most sleep they can get,” Dell’Orto said. “Expecting them to get up earlier than most adults who work a 9-to-5 job, and expecting them to learn and function on top of that, is unrealistic.”

  Other students, though, while appreciating the thought of having some extra shut-eye in the morning, think the change won’t make much of a difference.

  “I like the general idea of it, but I think I would end up spending the same time on homework and sleep in the morning,” junior Rachel Finsthwait said. “So I would end up staying up later because school would get out later.”

  Sophomore Kate Thompson is another student who feels as though the switch is too much of a hassle for few real results.

  “Even though I would wake up later, there would be less time in the evening for me to get to multiple sports practices, do homework, study and still have a social life,” Thompson said. “In the end, I would just stay up even later and get about the same amount of sleep.”

  Leanna  Neal, a sophomore and member of the Emerald Brigade, said the change is minimal and she doesn’t see a problem with getting her work done within the parameters of the new schedule.

  “It would be really nice having an extra hour of sleep,” Neal said.    

  Whatever a student says, though, the fact that this bill is now moving through the California state legislature doesn’t surprise many.        

 The Senate bill was approved in late May and sent to the Assembly, which must approve it and then send it to the governor’s office for his signature. If the bill passes in its current form, the later start time will go into effect no later than July  2020.

  “With as much as kids and parents have been talking about how school starts too early, I’m not surprised something like this bill is taking place,” Thompson said, “I’m just surprised it took so long.”