English III/AP: American Literature
2017-2018 (10th & 11th graders)

Late Start: Solution or Nightmare?

by Tess Billmire, Xiu Mei Golden, Madeleine Hinson, and Paige Robnett

As students, we all agree that having enough sleep is an issue -- not just for ourselves, but for teens across America. This sleepy trend among American students could have a number of causes, but current researchers point fingers at early school starts. Studies show that arriving at school by 7:50 a.m. (or even earlier) is not healthy for many teenagers. Teen's brains are still developing, so rest is crucial. However, it is very difficult (and maybe impossible) to fit the schedules of 15.1 million American high school students into one time frame. Due to myriad requirements, finding an efficient time frame for the typical school day is a headache in itself.

Students Suffer from Sleep Deprivation

That extra hour of sleep is something almost every teen wants and biologically needs. According to Michael J. Breus, The Sleep Doctor, only fifteen percent of teens are getting the amount of sleep their bodies need to function properly. On average, teens sleep six to seven hours each night, when they realistically need about nine hours. 1 Sofia Hawkins, a sophomore at McCall-Donnelly High School, explains that her lack of sleep is problematic in the mornings: "I probably get about six hours of sleep and I always have such a rough time getting out of bed in the morning and have such a lack of motivation to be productive."

However, nine hours of sleep is unrealistic for some students who participate in after-school activities and have impressive amounts of homework. Statistics from researcher Carolyn Crist show that when students begin classes at 8:30 AM or later: ". . . attendance rates and graduation rates improve. . . " 2 Sleep deprivation results in major impacts on teens such as depression, weight gain, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, anxiety, and mood swings. Late start studies show a quick improvement in these areas of mental health. Clare Nelson, a student at Boise High School, explains how having just one day of late start (8:30 a.m.) each week benefits her and the overall mood of the student body at her school: "I love late start. . . it is really nice to get that extra sleep!" She adds, "Everyone at Boise High loves it and I honestly look forward to it every week."

Sleep Statistics

With more sleep, students increase their overall performance in school. The University of Minnesota experimented on 9,000 college students and found that their academic achievements improved when they started class later. Cindy Long, writer for NEA Today, says: ". . .when school starts at 7:30 AM, the researchers found that only 34% of students get at least eight hours of sleep. When they begin at 8:35 a.m., up to 60% of students get eight hours. When they start as late as 8:55 AM, 66% of students get eight or more hours of sleep, the recommended amount of sleep for everyone."3

Research also shows that the ideal time to start school is around 9:30 am. This later start time could not only allow students to eat breakfast, but also to complete extra-curricular activities before school. While school sports generally take place in the evening, scientists recommend exercising earlier to gain a boost of energy and to be ready to take on the day. President of the California Sleep Society, Dr. Anoop Karippot, believes that there is enough scientific evidence supporting issues of sleep deprivation, and that a change in start times by one hour can make a huge difference in the quality of student life. 4

Racing Against Time

Contrary to common opinion, a late start does not always mean more sleep. While many students and faculty yearn for that "extra five minutes," the likelihood of extra time actually happening is minimal. A late start ultimately means a community schedule shift, where students may stay up later to compensate for the time they missed while sleeping that morning. Schools with late starts have found that extracurricular activities sometimes end as late as 10:30 PM. When students such as Rachel Warrens, a student at San Diego's High Tech High, come home after school, most scroll through social media and catch up on the latest television shows before starting on their homework. These habits are not subject to change and the hours that were originally spent early in the morning at school will likely be reallocated to finishing homework late at night.

Statistics Also Support Concerns

The current system is already a hassle for some parents who drive their children to school. Pushing school start times later in the morning may interfere with parents' work schedules, creating a logistical nightmare. While students may benefit from starting school later, their parents are still required to show up at the standard time. Some students have the luxury of driving themselves to school, but students relying on their parents may have trouble finding a new ride, should school districts implement later start times. At Mission Bay High School in California, at least 60% of the students are bused in from all over the county. A change in schedules can create problems such as having to recruit new drivers, redesign routes, and potentially increase costs.

Late Start Backlash

A late start is no different than daylight savings: humans do adapt in a matter of weeks. A student's entire schedule would be pushed ahead an hour, resulting in an extra hour to sleep in. 3 However, this adjustment results in going to bed an hour later and getting the same amount of sleep. A teacher in San Diego reflects: "If I know that I [teach] at 9:00 in the morning, I tend to stay up later. . . whereas if I know I have a 7:30 class. . . I get myself to bed at a reasonable time." Both students and faculty are prone to adjusting their internal clocks to fit in all they want to accomplish in a day.

By starting later, schools will experience a series of productivity problems. In the morning of an average school day, students arrive with "a full energy tank," but as school continues, fatigue sets in and they put less effort into their work. By 3:00 pm, students who are still in school describe it as "boring and slow." Warrens, of High Tech High, where they already start late, adds: "In general, because our last class doesn't end until 3:40, it just kind of gets slow at the end of the day. Everyone feels it." Late starts would only decrease the rate at which students stay focused, and by the end of the day, productivity levels would be very low.


Sleep is scientifically beneficial to adolescents' brains. It is important that communities across America take small steps toward later starts to influence teens' lives in a positive way. Late starts may be one key to solving the issues of this tiresome generation. However, everyone has a different biological rhythm, so late starts may be a solution for some and a nightmare for others. It will take a team effort between schools and families to meet the needs of teenagers and guide them to better follow their own circadian rhythms.


1 -- Breus, Michael. Sleep Impacts Everyone. https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/?slimstat-opt-out=true
2 -- Crist, Carolyn. Later high school start times linked to higher attendance, graduation rates. February 10, 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-education/later-high-school-start-times-linked-to-higher- attendance-graduation-rates-idUSKBN15P2F7
3 -- Long, Cindy. The Pros and Cons of Later School Start Times: Will Extra Zzz's Bring Teens More A's? March 20, 2014. http://neatoday.org/2014/03/20/extras-zzzs-in-the-morning-may-bring-teens-more-as-in- school/
4 -- Karippot, Anoop. SD Unified takes first steps to later start times. Interviewed by Gary Warth. October 11, 2017. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/sd-me-start-times-20171011-story.html

To see all vocabulary for the year, go to: American Literature VOCABULARY. Play to study on Quizlet >>>


Participation = 30%
(purely subjective, based on my perceptions of your initiative, interest, self-motivation, & tenacity)

Assignments (two parts of grade)

1st Semester EFFORT = 20%;
2nd Semester EFFORT = 10%;

Vocab/Multiple Choice tests = 15%

AP Portfolio essay grades = 15%

Exams = 10%

An explanation of the assignment grades at right. The grade you see is an average of the CONTENT grades you have received over an average of the EFFORT grades you have received. During the first semester, the effort grade will be weighted more; during the Spring semester, I will look at the content average as the more significant part of your grade.

pieces written by English III students this year
pieces written by English III students in 2014-2015
pieces written by English III students in 2010-2011
pieces written by English III students in 2007-2008
pieces written by English III students in 2005-2006
pieces written by English III students in 2003-2004
pieces written by English III students in 2001-2002

During your MDHS reading class this year, choose some books from the 9th-10th Grade Reading List.

Click on the icon at right to access Editors' Links and directions for email editing: Editors' Links

Check all papers for THESE SKILLS before turning them in to me. ALSO:


Semester II Unfinished pieces

Xiu Mei:
                Assignments: 90% [E] / 90% [C]
                timed essays = 83%
                Multiple Choice/vocab = 85%

Steinbeck/Cather/Fitzgerald essay
4 Brown short application essays
1 Common App long essay
O'Connor essay with Paige

                Assignments: 93% [E] / 92% [C]
                timed essays = 65%
                Multiple Choice/vocab = 56%
                AP Final exam = 3


                Assignments: 90% [E] / 92% [C]
                timed essays = 78%
                Multiple Choice/vocab = 100%

Steinbeck/Cather/Fitzgerald essay
O'Connor essay with Xiu Mei
BSU application & essays

                Assignments: 86% [E] / 90% [C]
                timed essays = 66%
                Multiple Choice/vocab = 67%
                AP Final exam = 3


The North Fork School Home Page | top of this page

Click on bar below to email Marie
MAIL to Marie

Copyright June 22, 2018 Marie M. Furnary All rights reserved.