April 24, 2002
(This letter was originally addressed to the Aspen School Board)
As kids grow and change into teenagers they require more sleep. This is why I strongly believe that school should start at nine o’clock instead of 8:15. It has been proven that kids going through puberty get their best sleep early on in the morning, which is the time when they are usually forced to get up. Because of this, they really don’t get active and alert until early in the afternoon.
Teenagers are supposed to get around nine hours of sleep a night. How can this happen, though? As kids go into seventh and eighth grade they start to get excessive amounts of homework, which requires them to stay up later and later. Then sometimes it is impossible for kids to get the right amounts of sleep.
Some kids have sports in the morning, such as hockey, which starts at 6:00 AM, and soccer, which starts at 6:30 AM. If school started at 9:00 AM, kids would get the required amount of sleep and hockey or soccer practice would start an hour later. Kids would also get a chance to have breakfast after practice. Breakfast gives people the strength and energy to do well in school. Kids also wouldn’t have to go to school smelling like sweat, because they would have a chance to take a shower before going.
Research in progress suggests that if kids can adjust their schedule and get the correct amount of sleep, they may be more likely to stay off of drugs. By delaying the start time of school, it will allow those kids who don’t get enough sleep and might be on the verge of doing drugs to catch up on their sleep and maybe change his/her mind. This will also make a kid do better in school, and if they have a drivers license they are less likely to get in a car accident.
If school ends up starting at nine, I think it should also end at the same time as usual (3:05 PM). So instead of classes being 90 minutes long they should be cut to 75 minutes long. When my teacher was a kid, his school started at nine and ended at three. This idea is not brand new and has been tried before. I understand that some kid’s parents have to go to their jobs early in the morning. This is why I suggest that school starting at 9:00 should only happen for middle through high school. By then kids are more responsible and can take the bus by themselves.
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By changing the start time of school from 8:15 to 9:00 kids would be able to get the required amount of sleep. They would do better in school, and stay off drugs. Kids would also be more awake for their sports practices in the morning. Please consider this. I believe it can make a difference.