Students weigh in on D-51 school start time debate

Published: Jul. 26, 2016 at 1:09 AM MDT
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The alarms of high school students are set for early hours, after late nights of endless homework.

“I get to class and I’m like dead,” said Lexi Wyatt, who is a Junior.

Dead in teen talk means really, really, really tired.

“Basically I can't pay attention and neither can anybody else. It's really hard to focus because you're so tired,” Wyatt said.

In just a couple of weeks, kids will be zipping up their backpack and heading out to school once again.

An extensive study done by the Center for Disease Control, found that pediatricians urged that middle and high schools should delay start times to improve students' health. They recommend aiming for a start time of no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

"We are definitely aware of the CDC studies and all the different articles that are out there saying that it's better for kids that are to wait into the day,” said Emily Shockley.

However, on average the high school start time in Colorado is at 7:54 a.m.

According to the study, these early starts can actually cause health problems. Adolescents who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, not engage in daily physical activity, suffer from depressive symptoms, and engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs.

These behaviors can ultimately leads to poor performance in school.

"I know my grades have suffered because I have been so tired. So that would definitely help my grades a lot and I know it's would a lot of other kids,” Wyatt said.

Turns out they're not just grumpy kids...they would benefit more sleep.

However, District 51 said the solution is as complicated as calculus. The district said later start times district would have wide-spread, negative impacts. That's why the school board has looked into options for the 2017-2018 school year.

“The options are we could get more buses obviously there is a cost with that. Or we could just flip (the schedules). Then you have little elementary kids, who are out waiting for the bus in the dark, and you don't really want that either. Or you can do something where they both kind of slide back a little bit,” Shockley said.

A little change didn't do it for Jeremy Virdan. Ge graduated from high school this May and in order to succeed he made a personal change.

“I left public school...I was just tired of getting up and going to school for eight hours a day and trying not to fall asleep for those 8 hours. Then going home to six more hours of homework. Then try and go to sleep and do it all over again,” said Virdan.

Virdan said the change worked out.

“I left public school and went home school... I'd wake up at like 10 a.m. for the first year and I did way better. I graduated technically early and then went to college full time,” Virdan said.

More on how the change may affect student athletes and how despite the studies pointing to a later start, why the district may not change the time.