Why do we see the sun rise?

We, the students of St. Pete High– some of us for the past four years– have been arriving at school with the ability to watch the sunrise. It is beautiful on the days when it is clear outside and the clouds aren’t covering the sky. Despite this, to say that beginning a rigorous day of learning when the sun has barely risen is not good for high schoolers is an understatement. However, not many can imagine it any other way. Feeling well rested, clear-headed, and ready for the school day, is a foreign feeling for high schoolers. 

Our school campus begins classes at 7:25 AM and expects students to be in first-period classrooms before then, running ahead of the toll of the bell. This is understandable. Teachers and administrators don’t want students to miss teaching time in their classes. The time high school starts isn’t up to them, after all. The county has many more high schools besides ours.

Pinellas County bell times for the 2022-2023 school year are similar to what they have been for years. High schools are starting at mostly 7:25 AM with other schools such as Lakewood and Gibbs starting even earlier, at 7:10 in the morning. High schoolers are no exception to the rule of at least eight hours of sleep for growing bodies, and during such important grades of their school life, it can be argued that they need more than this, more than the middle and elementary schools do. Elementary and middle schools are starting at 8 or 9 in the morning. To be clear, the time they have to wake up isn’t as much of a problem if they get to bed on time, but the earlier they have to be asleep, the more of a problem this becomes.

It is well known that many high schoolers are very involved in their schools, whether that be through clubs or sports. These various activities are commitments. They take time out of the day to be able to participate, and there are plenty of extracurriculars outside of school as well. Juggling busy schedules is not uncommon for high school students, nor is it easy. So many students get home late and only then start homework, so they are unable to be asleep in time to get at least eight hours.

If high school started at a later time, this would not be an issue. It would give students the opportunity to sleep that extra hour or two that they need.

   As things are now, the mental health of high school students pays the price for the lack of sleep they are subjected to. Unfortunately, this goes unnoticed and unhelped. In order to keep up with schoolwork and other things going on in their lives, a sufficient amount of sleep is sacrificed by teens.

Even for those students who are able to get eight or more hours, waking up before sunrise, while it is still dark outside, is unhealthy. This is not how our bodies are supposed to work, so many students will still feel tired in the morning and unable to focus. This affects first-period classes especially. All high schoolers know that feeling. At this critical time and age in high schoolers’ lives, they should not be constantly beaten down by grogginess and poor mental health.

Although much of the responsibility of sleeping well is up to the student, there is part of it they cannot control. The time high school starts is wrong and unhealthy and needs to be changed, for the betterment of our students and future students.