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Sept. 24, 2015

Blazers react to bell times being pushed back

by Sandeep David, Online Opinions Editor
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) delayed start and end times for middle and high schools by 20 minutes and delayed start and end times for elementary schools by 10 and 20 minutes, respectively, for the 2015-2016 school year. Students and faculty at Blair affected by this change reported that it has not made much of a difference to their regular days.
Blazers come to school 20 minutes later than they did last year. Courtesy of Miles Royce
Blazers come to school 20 minutes later than they did last year.

The change was motivated by research which suggests that teens tend to go to bed later and rise later. Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Sleep Medicine Clinic at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. said that most teenagers cannot fall asleep before 11 p.m. From the start of puberty "adolescents are programmed to fall asleep later," Owens said.

Senior Charlie Waltz-Chesnaye found that moving the times back has kept him more alert in the morning. "I like it," he said. "I get more sleep because I go to bed at the same time so I'm not exhausted in the morning."

Other students were not affected by the change. Sophomore Esther Lee adjusted to set her whole day back 20 minutes. "The time change hasn't affected me because I just go to sleep later, meaning I get the same amount of sleep," she said.

English teacher Keith Anderson believed that though the change is a step in the right direction, it is not significant enough to create real improvement in students' sleep schedules. "I don't think it makes any difference at all," he said. "However, I like the precedent that we are considering moving bell schedules." Anderson was in favor of the county's earlier proposal that was struck down, which would have pushed back high school start times by 50 minutes, middle schools' by 10 minutes and elementary schools' by 30 minutes.

According to MCPS bus driver Douglas Schmidt, the changes have not affected bus routes much. "It's just moved everything back twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the afternoon. There's really no difference," he said.

Sophomore Emma Schillerstrom has found that school sports were impacted by the change, and noted that sports practices run longer than they did last year. "With sports they tend to want to keep you longer, because the amount of time school was pushed back is not exactly half an hour but the coaches keep us back for at least half an hour," she said.

Some students, including senior Timothy Zhou, found their out-of-school activities affected. "I can't make it to my swim practices after school on time as a result of the change," he said.

Though the time change may not have had much of an effect on students this school year, Anderson is hopeful for the future. "If we go off of this and move the start times back a couple more times, I think that would be most beneficial to students," he said.



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  • Chris Gillette RPSGT (View Email) on September 28, 2015 at 2:47 PM
    Even though some of the students report going to bed later and waking up later the students still benefit because they can fully achieve their last rem period in the morning and get better sleep architecture. Most of the reason kids are so groggy and tired in the mornings is because they are waking up during that last rem period. By changing the times to start later they are at least getting through the last part of their sleep and getting better rest. It is a good move to change these times over time you will see significant changes in students test scores and behavior through out the day.

    Chris Gillette RPSGT
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