8 a.m. school start time adopted for next year

Rachel Katz and Ellie White

A student moves to turn off her alarm clock at 7:40 a.m. Next year, students will have the opportunity to sleep in due to a 20-minute later start time. Photo by Sarah Boeke

The clock struck 4:30 a.m. as junior Thane Gesite struggled to finish her homework due that morning. Realizing she would rather be prepared for her classes than to try to get some sleep, she decided to power through her homework before attending a full day of school. Later that day, Gesite found herself struggling to stay awake in her classes.

“My body was just … not prepared for that little amount of sleep,” Gesite said.

On February 27, Glenbrook High School District #225 sent out a district-wide email that stated the approval of the new start and end times for the 2019-2020 Glenbrook North school year. The change will move the current 7:40 a.m. start time 20 minutes later to 8 a.m. and shift the end time of 2:55 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. These changes were approved during a Board of Education meeting on February 25.

Principal John Finan said aligning the GBN and Glenbrook South start times had been under consideration for a while, but due to bus contracts between feeder districts and GBN, the change was unable to be implemented. Ultimately, District #225 was able to become independent from the feeder districts in terms of bus routings.

While specific bell schedules are not yet finalized, Finan said the GBN bell schedule will most likely be the same as GBS’s.

According to Finan, additional reasons for this change were to allow students more time to sleep, as well as to become more aligned with other  schools’ schedules in the area.

There’s plenty of research out there that would indicate that the adolescent brain … does not function optimally very early in the morning,” Finan said.

Judith Owens, director of the Sleep Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said in an email interview that sleeping for an extra 15 or 20 minutes over a consistent period of time has many benefits, including improvements in mood and reduced symptoms of depression.

Gesite said she feels that with this extra opportunity for sleep, she will be much more motivated and energized to take on the day.

Finan said there are plans in place to prevent traffic conflicts between GBN and Maple. These plans include shifting the Maple School start and end time later by five minutes, as well as creating changes to the new Maple campus to better accommodate traffic.

Gesite said she feels that there will not be much of a change with her daily after school schedule, even with a later push in the school day end time.

According to junior Evan Denenberg, getting more sleep in the morning will be worth the possibility of having his extracurriculars end at a later time in the day.

Finan said he believes guidelines should be made to provide a range of times when practices should start in the morning and end in the evening. He also believes the overall wellness of students will increase once the change is implemented.

Gesite said she hopes other students can keep an open mind about the change.

“I’m happy that [the start time] is being pushed back and I can get even, like, 20 more minutes of sleep before I start my day.

“I think it’ll make all the difference,” Gesite said.