by Ellie Jolly, News Reporter
photo by Becky Dozortsev
The Newton School Committee introduced a new high school schedule this year that pushed back the start and end times of the school day. They had hoped to maximize the time students have to sleep, however, a recent survey from The Roar revealed that as of early December, students have been reporting hours of sleep below the recommended amount.
According to Your Teen Needs More Sleep, a Psychology Today article by psychologist Michael J. Breus, adolescents should be getting eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. The Roar’s data reveals that over half (56%) of 619 students surveyed reported receiving between five to seven hours of sleep on average. Not only this, 60% of 619 students are not getting to bed until midnight or later.
While the new schedule was supposed to give students additional time to sleep and eat breakfast in the mornings, sophomore Alon Mileguir said that he has not seen any noticeable change in his habits.
“I start my day way later, I get to school later, I get home later, and I do my work later. Everything I would normally do still happens, just later,” he said.
Despite the district’s intentions to prioritize wellness, the schedule prompted backlash from students, junior Zach Decter said.
“Nothing was really done to change the schedule even though the people it would affect spoke out,” he said.
A common complaint cited by students was a lack of time after school to participate in extracurriculars and complete their homework. Senior Jessie Traxler said the schedule has contributed to a lack of motivation.
“I used to get home and still be able to do homework, but now I get home after school and after extracurriculars, look at the clock, see that it’s 8:30, and I just don’t want to do anything,” she said.
Similarly, Decter said the new schedule is ineffective in facilitating after-school productivity.
“Because it pushes sports practices back so far, we’re doing homework until 12:00 a.m., and half the time the sports practices are in the dark in the late fall because school gets out so late,” he said. “If schools started 45 minutes earlier at 8:15 … that would make a huge difference.”
History department chair and teacher Jennifer Morrill said that she prefers the new schedule, but she can see how it can harmfully affect students.
“I’m working from 8:15 to 4:30 and then I go home and get to walk the dog and have dinner and do some more work — it’s a lovely day, not starting so early. But I’m not an athlete,” she said. “I don’t have to do other things after school other than go home.”
Freshman Lauren Kelly said that the previous start time of 7:40 a.m. was far too early to be alert for learning and she supports the updated start time of 9:00 a.m.
“My older siblings who have graduated or are upperclassmen would sometimes have to wake up before the sun rose to get to school, which I think is ridiculous,” she said.
Your Teen Needs More Sleep claims that teenagers are biologically programmed to sleep at later times, as the natural melatonin in their bodies is not released until around 11 p.m.
Additionally, Morrill said that the previous start time was demanding for students traveling from Boston, who had to wake up in time to be able to get ready and arrive at class by 7:40.
Mileguir said that the new schedule is a step in the right direction, and he believes a potential middle ground can be reached.
“I don’t think the schedule should go back to the way it was before, but there could be an in-between. 8:30 might make more sense because no one likes getting out of school around 4:00,” he said.
Sophomore Hailey Smith said that in addition to the committee’s efforts, there are still changes that can be made to ensure a balanced school life.
“The later start time was a good start to fixing student sleep schedules, but more needs to be done in order to fully correct them,” she said. “A slightly earlier start time would allow after-school activities to start earlier and allow students to sleep at a reasonable time.”