After a new law requires students to start school no earlier than 8:30 am, M-A is changing its bell schedule to have a seventh period at the end of the school day instead of a zero period at the beginning of the day.
Students who started school with a first period this year will have to come to school nearly half an hour earlier next year. A law that was intended to give students more sleep will likely give most M-A students less sleep. If students still go to sleep at the same time as they did this year, they would lose a total of around three hours of sleep per week.
Junior Theodore Weicker said, “I already don’t really get enough sleep, so the extra 30 minutes is just extra sleep deprivation. I definitely think that it would impact performance both during practice and during games because the extra 30 minutes is pretty vital to actually sleep well.”
Sophomore Amala Raj said, “I have an issue with the state law because I don’t feel like it’s the most productive way to make students get more sleep. We’re still going to have the same amount of homework and extracurricular activities so we’re still going to be sleeping about the same amount, regardless of when school starts.”
Sophomore Iris Stevenson said, “From the standpoint of the state law, it seems like that’s not necessarily the best way to get more sleep. I think some students do stay up late just because they can, but some students are just trying to get their homework done and then go to bed. I don’t think it really matters when school starts because if you get out of school later, then you’re going to be doing homework later and it doesn’t really change how much you sleep. I think if they want high schoolers to get more sleep, reducing the homework load would be more effective.”
Some worry that a difference in end times with the addition of an optional seventh period will cause issues for all of the students who play sports at M-A. Practice for various sports teams won’t be allowed to start until the school day ends at 3:45 pm, even though the majority of athletes who don’t take a seventh period would finish the school day at 2:50 pm.
Weicker, who plays football at M-A, said, “If we have practice after school, people who have sports need to just sit and wait for practice to start for an hour or 45 minutes, which can be pretty frustrating. Otherwise, we would have to start practice very early [before school] which also kind of sucks.”
To avoid having to wait on campus after school for practice to start, it might make sense for student athletes to opt for a late start schedule with classes from second to seventh period. However, the school recommends against it because student athletes would miss more class time when they have to leave school early for a game.
Some students who take a zero period are also opposed to this new schedule. Stevenson, who took a zero period class this year and is planning on taking seven classes again next year, said, “I think that most of the time, the people who take a zero period also do a lot of extracurriculars, and [under the new schedule] there’s just less time in the afternoon for extracurriculars. I think the law is at fault more than the school. The school is just trying to fit everything in, but I wish they kept zero period at the beginning of the day, not a seventh period. I just think it would be easier for everyone.”
Stevenson added that being in class during a seventh period, when most students are leaving campus, would be distracting. Stevenson said, “There are a lot of people who get to school early during zero period and it’s a little bit disruptive, but it’s not that bad. I think it would be worse when everyone’s trying to get out of school and then they’re just really disruptive.”
However, some others who take a zero period like the idea of taking a seventh period instead. Raj said, “I appreciate it because I feel like it sets everyone off on equal footing. Instead of some of us having to be at school for an extra 50 minutes in the morning, we all start at the same time, so everyone has the same energy level. School also starts a bit later for people who have a zero period which is really nice. I don’t super appreciate how late school goes, but I guess that’s unavoidable.”