Commentary

Why This Could Work

Since Dr. Maas’s first visit to Phillips Academy three years ago, the Andover community has been awakened to the perils of sleep deprivation. Yet nothing has changed. If we want to do more than smile and nod (and, eventually, nod off) at Dr. Maas’s suggestions, we must take the next step. The Phillipian’s Sleep Proposal is a start. All the evidence stands behind the idea of a later start to the school day. This proposal allows us to do just that. But it will only be a band-aid solution if it is not accompanied by lifestyle changes on our behalf. In a community as open and trusting as ours, it will take not only a change in schedule but a commitment to discipline and a renewed sense of our priorities in order to bring about truly positive change. If the Administration holds true to its word and agrees to consider this proposal, they are extending a helping hand. But we need to meet them halfway. The proposed sleep schedule will only serve as a superficial change unless the student body gets its act together. Improved work ethic can ensure that this proposal, if passed, will provide lasting change. First off, study hours need to live up to their name. We can not blame our exhaustion on our work load if we are not using our allotted study time efficiently. We need to create an atmosphere of scholarship during the two hours Phillips Academy has set aside for exactly that purpose. Conference Period, like Study Hours, has its name for a reason. In discussing this proposal, we debated whether or not Conference period should maintain its spot in our daily schedule. We concluded that the concept of a Conference period is invaluable, but right now too little of us take advantage of it. You need not wander blindly through your Calculus homework: go see your teacher. Finally, don’t procrastinate. Time management is a skill that can be learned and we have a whole center devoted to teaching us. Take advantage of it. No one can be a robot– the aim here is not perfection, but strengthened focus. Efficiency is a habit which will serve us well for the rest of our careers. Dr. Keller put it plainly: High achieving students plus endless opportunities equals sleep deprivation. We need to learn how to say no to more commitments and yes to more pillow time. Don’t take this proposal as an excuse to stay up later; the whole point of our initiative is to get more sleep. Andover forces us to prioritize: now prioritize wisely. If health didn’t come in at the top of your list before Dr. Maas’s presentation, it should be there now. Our priorities as a student body are undoubtedly centered on success; we want to qualify for athletic championships, get on the senior board of every club, and ultimately, go to the best colleges. These goals are hard to achieve; poor health makes it even harder. Faculty and administration, we are willing to change if you are willing to help us. Students, take these words to heart, and take action. Sebastian Becker and Jenn Schaffer are Associate Commentary Editors of The Phillipian. Becker is a two-year Upper from New York City. Schaffer is a three-year Upper from Bolingbrook, Ill. jbecker@andover.edu jschaffer@andover.edu