The Impact of Early Start Times


Alexius Mancl

The student struggles to stay awake during class time, due to the demands that keep her up at night.

Alexius Mancl, Hour 5B

Imagine yourself in your first hour class starting at 7:35 am, most of us are falling asleep or having a hard time paying attention because we are not fully awake. Lots of times your desk neighbor will be sleeping, most of the class might have coffee walking in, and there is barely any discussion. As a result, students are having decreased performance in school, in extracurricular activities, such as sports, and even in their jobs. Poor performance in these areas could result in punishment, proving early start times for highschool students are causing mental health issues from lack of sleep.

Early Start Times Impact More Than Academics

The start time for SPASH is so early, hurting the well being of students. For most students getting up so early in the morning could cause them to have a decrease in mood throughout the day. The early start times are proving to take a toll on both mental and physical health. 

According to the CDC, highschools that start after 8:30 am have students who are more alert, more awake, and are proven to have an overall improvement in health, (mentally and physically). Ms. Melville, the assistant principal of SPASH,  agrees that “more sleep would decrease anxiety and stress, improving overall mental and physical health.” Meaning that all students would be more awake, have better attitudes, and accomplish more. Mrs. Mancl, Elementary school teacher,  states, “the lack of sleep in all students does not allow for optimal learning.” This goes along with what Ms. Melville, assistant principal of SPASH, says, proving that students are not the best they can be  affecting the way they are learning.

During the school day, a lot of this stress is carried into after school activities such as extracurriculars, jobs, homework, and sports. Carson Eggers, SPASH senior, tells us, “when you are already stressed with school, having work stress with that makes it a lot worse.” Meaning that when you do not get enough sleep it can put more stress on school and if you have a job it could carry into that putting stress on work too. 

All of this stress is leading to mental health problems in students, and can also effect your preformance in these areas. According to the CDC, one in three highschool students suffer from mental health disorders. Annina Lecapitaina, Junior at SPASH, agrees with this statement “you will be more anxious and more stressed if you do not get enough sleep.” This adds to Carson’s statement, that if you are not allowed enough sleep you will be more stressed with school, work and school related activities. 

Positive outcome of late start times and possible solutions.

Similar to stress with sleep, I was able to find that later start time could have a positive outcome. One option to allow for later start times could be switching elementary and secondary start times. When talking to Ms. Melville, assistant principal of SPASH, she said that switching would not be beneficial because then you are bringing the early start issue to elementary. On the contrary, Mrs. Mancl, elementary school teacher, states “High school students have extra curriculars, jobs, and a large amount of homework that causes them to be up late at night. They are also  returning from out of town sports games at 9:30 to 10 or later. They would benefit from a later start time and switching with elementary would allow this.”  Meaning, that if we switched we would start later and end a bit later, making it easier for everyone. 

Another option for shorter start times would be the option of shortening class periods. In order to do this we would have to eliminate work time. Both students Carson and Annina agree that it would be beneficial for students mental health but on the contrary would affect students grades. This would cause school performance to decrease. Ms.Melville agrees with Carson and Annina expressing “Work Time for students is crucial, this is a time for them to ask their teachers questions.” Meaning that students need this work time and if they don’t have that time they might not complete their work, or be unsure of what they are doing. Aside from the negative outcomes from eliminating work time, this would result in a positive outcome. 

Mrs. Mancl, elementary school teacher,  stated, “This would increase sleep for secondary students, as well as  allow for earlier start times in elementary.  This would maximize on student times of alertness in elementary school, decrease mental health issues in all age levels, and allow for a more productive day.  This would also allow students to get through their evening commitments without the stress and worry of getting enough sleep.” Meaning that if we eliminated work time we could start the day later, which would allow for more sleep. Ms. Melville, assistant principal of SPASH agrees, “Students would be decompressed and not as stressed. Staff would feel the same.” This proves that students would benefit from the later start times in the school day. 

Negative outcomes.

Although the late start times might have some positive benefits, this could also cause a negative outcome. Such as sports having to be pushed back causing the students to return later from away games, this would not solve the problem, but keep it the way it was. 

Also, Ms.Melville, assistan principal of SPASH states that due to later start times it would affect bussing routes. Agreeing with my statement, it would not cause the students to return any earlier from sports but just push it back later. Another negative, is the community concern. Ms. Melville says, “For elementary an issue would be changes in child care, after school, some older kids are to take care of their siblings. Along with the lateness of extracurriculars, and  making transportation work, it would be hard as we are already struggling to find bus drivers. This proves that starting late would have more negative effects than positive.

In conclusion, early start times for highschool students are causing issues in areas such as school, jobs, and sports. A solution could possibly be pushing start times back, or shortening class periods. This is not a quick solution and would take lots of time to work out, but could result in an increase in mental health for SPASH students. The fix in time would help but would be too hard to complete, but could be done in the future. Which is why we should keep our start times as they are.