A Modest Proposal

Everything about our current schedule works, except for the start time. The schedule is “elegant, in the other words of Dr. Peter Merrill.” It is time-tested and addresses many of the problems that previous models could not. That’s why we have kept it virtually the same, except for one small but powerful change: we’ve moved the start of our day to 9 a.m. We know this plan won’t add another hour to the day, but as Dr. Maas pointed out last week, teenagers’ bodies are set to different biological clocks than those of adults and children. Our levels of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, rise later into the night and drop later into the morning. We simply aren’t programmed to be functional that early in the morning. This proposal does not directly address the issue of sleep deprivation, but we believe that a later start time will result in better sleep habits and a general improvement in all areas of student life. For evidence, take Deerfield Academy, where Head of School Margarita Curtis took the initiative to move the start of school to 8:30 a.m. Since the start of the program, visits to the health centers have gone down, athletic victories have gone up and grade point averages have improved across the board. If Deerfield can do it, so can we. So while our proposal may seem simplistic, it works. Although it has some glitches, we believe the benefits outweigh them. We have created this proposal with the aim of minimal sacrifice and maximum efficiency. This proposal is by no means a solution to all of our problems, but we believe it is a vital step in the right direction. Some proposed that we shorten the passing time from 10 minutes to 7 or 8 minutes, but it’s hard enough to go from the third floor of Gelb to the second floor of Graves in fewer than 10 minutes as it is. Who would want to have class at 9:53 anyway? We know it sounds strange, but since classes are starting an hour later, Period Three will now be a lunch period. We discussed putting Conference at the beginning of the day, but decided against it for three reasons. 1) It’s unfair to teachers. 2) Many of us would end up having four straight classes. 3) Fewer people would use Conference because everyone would rather sleep. Wednesday and Thursday are a little more complicated. Since Periods Three, Four and Five are now the lunch periods, the Thursday schedule would have to shift them to the end of the day. Thursday would then begin with Period Seven and Wednesday would end with Period Six. Also, on Wednesday, we would move All-School Meeting to the end of the day. If a team has an away game, it can miss All-School. Everything else on Thursday will only be pushed back 10 minutes, since classes begin at 8:50 a.m. currently. “It’s hard to imagine kids staying up any later than they already do.” – Dr. Richard Keller, School Physician THE flaws day Students We are aware that, due to parents’ work schedules, many of you will still be forced to come to campus at the same time. However, the time between arrival and classes can be used for undone homework from the previous day, allowing you to go to sleep earlier. And according to Dr. Keller, you’re healthier anyway. later athletic practices There are six varsity teams that will have to practice after dark for a part of the fall. One team will be able to play under the stadium lights. This is a problem that we don’t have an answer for. Music and Theatre Rehearsals By starting study hours 30 minutes later, we hope that PA’s performers will have adequate rehearsal time from the end of their athletic commitments until 8:30 p.m. And just as athletic games will stick to the current schedule on Wednesdays, rehearsals may run as usual on Wednesdays.