The Scituation

Scituate High School's student newspaper

The Scituation

The Scituation


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Should Every Day Be a Late Start Day?

School starts at 9:15 AM on Late-Start Wednesdays

“Late-Start Wednesday” is a chance for students at Scituate High School to catch up on sleep, go out for breakfast, or spend time at school before the day starts at 9:15 AM. (The SHS school day typically starts at 8:15 AM.)

Teens from 13 to 18 years old require eight to ten hours of sleep every night; however, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 73% of high schoolers are not getting the recommended amount. While starting school later on Wednesday seems like the perfect time to fix this, it may not be enough to provide teens with the rest they need. Taking advantage of “Late-Start Wednesdays” and weekends to catch up on sleep does not provide the same quality of sleep as a regular, healthy sleep schedule. Relying on late starts and weekends instead of daily healthy sleep habits could lead to chronic sleep deprivation. So the solution seems to be simple: go to sleep earlier. While this may be a common expression for adults when faced with exhausted teens, it is far from a flawless plan.

There are two main issues with this reasoning: homework assignments and circadian rhythms.  The amount of homework that high school students receive while engaged in extracurriculars such as clubs and sports results in them using nights to finish their work. Another reason for this issue is the sleep/wake circadian rhythm of teens. The circadian rhythm is a clock in the brain that regulates natural sleep schedules. Melatonin is a chemical that signals to the brain that it is time to sleep, but according to the Sleep Foundation, for most teens, the production of melatonin does not start until around 11:00 to 11:30 PM and does not stop until 8:00 to 8:30 AM. The solution may be starting school later every day to create a consistent and healthy sleep schedule for teens.

Scituate already has a later start than some high schools in Massachusetts. Hull High School starts at 7:25 AM, and Salem High School starts at 7:45 AM. In comparison, Scituate’s 8:15 AM start time seems comfortable, but even that is not enough when considering how early students have to wake up.

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According to the Scituate Public School bus schedule, pickup times are as early as 7:14 AM. Unfortunately, the solution of an even later start presents obstacles. If the school day starts later, it makes sense that it will end later.  This could be an issue for sports and clubs that would have to sacrifice time or run longer. Senior Ryan Dunn stated, “I play basketball, and I have practice right after school, so I usually come home at 5:00 or 5:15 ish. I have time to do my homework, time to eat dinner, and stuff like that. I feel like the time getting pushed back would push back at the end of the day, too, which would not benefit a lot of people.”

It would be problematic to end later for winter sports and clubs that already end when it’s nearly dark outside. This problem does not have an easy fix without sacrifices, but for now, it is important to understand the issue and work toward a better solution.