New start time, new LM

Katie Potts-Drew ’26 discusses what she thinks will be the results of the new high school start time next year.

LM high school will start later next school year | Graphic by Ilana Zahavy ’24/Staff

Most of us have heard about LMSD’s new initiative to push back school start times. If you haven’t, the basic idea is to shuffle around school start times for all schools. This means middle school will start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m.; high school will go from 8:40 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and elementary school from 9:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.. This swap, known as the “secondary swap”, is the result of multiple potential plans discussed by the different committees, such as the Research and Development Committee and the Sleep, Health, and School Schedules Advisory Committee and is a cumulative approach. The proposal, of course, has had pushbacks. This change has been in motion since 2019 and there have been endless school board meetings and discussions regarding whether school start times should even be changed, and how we should approach the change. Ultimately, it was decided that the secondary swap was the ideal plan of action. 

The change is a result of countless recommendations from medical professionals and organizations, including individuals from the NIH(National Institutes of Health). Many studies have shown that the most effective time to learn is between ten a.m. and two p.m., whereas the least effective time to learn is between four a.m.-eight a.m., which is the first period for high schoolers in the district. When talking to LM students, I found that on average they get six to seven hours of sleep on a good day. Although this seems like a normal amount of sleep, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends eight to ten hours of sleep for teens. In a study done by Stanford Medicine, it was found that “Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood teens will suffer negative consequences, including an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and even suicide attempts. It is a problem with no economic boundaries.” Teens are being held back by the school schedules. These long overdue changes are finally starting to transpire. 

Will changing the start times really help? Personally, I have mixed opinions on this question. For many people, I think it will greatly help. Although it may cause students to go to bed slightly later, the actual act of waking up later is proven to be beneficial in itself.  Due to the sleep habits of teens, it’s hard to fall asleep earlier because we are used to going to bed at 11:00 p.m. or later. Waking up later is something that can add time onto our sleep schedule. However, with its benefits come its downsides.  With school ending later, some sports practices will be pushed back. This, of course, raises the hotly debated “lights on Arnold Field problem,” but also may cause some sports practices and games to end very late. I already have sports practices ending at around 9:30 p.m. due to the availability of LM sports facilities, and I worry that with the school time change it may cause my practices and other sports practices to end at an even more unreasonable hour. 

Despite my doubts, I look forward to the new start time. The amount of effort it takes to drag myself out of bed at such an ungodly hour of the morning is, in my opinion, out of hand at the moment. I am glad that the overall health of students in LMSD is not being ignored, and is even being put as a priority. I hope to see benefits in our overall school academic performance, behavior, and mental health. With nearby schools already taking this leap, I think it is about time that LM follows suit. 

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