Everyone dreads the sound of their alarm in the morning, usually only getting up after the absolutely last possible time you can hit snooze. As teens, you don’t usually go to sleep early because it’s not what your internal clocks want you to do. In turn, you also resist getting up earlier. Studies have shown that many students don’t perform at their full potential in their early morning classes. The school boards of Florida began taking notice and it became a highly debated issue. Pinellas County School Board recently held a meeting on Wednesday, April 12th to discuss this matter of changing school start times throughout the county.
They came to a decision, after a 6-1 vote, most high schools will now start later at 7:20 a.m. with elementary schools starting at 8:45 a.m., and middle schools with a 9:40 a.m. bell time. This has resulted in an uproar among parents, students and teachers. Our school, Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School is going to experience a drastic change from a 9:00 A.M. start time to a 9:40 A.M. start time. Kelly Codding, Kaylee Rasmussen and Ella Dunham (eighth graders here at TMFMS) set out to find what our students and staff thought about this new decision. They polled 30 students total and found that 19 students preferred an earlier start time over a later time and 11 students would rather have the opposite (later over earlier). When they asked the students why, they seemed to come up with the same replies. Those who wanted an earlier time wanted to get to school earlier to leave school earlier in order for them to be able to do more extracurricular activities and sports. Even one Thurgood Alumnus we interviewed, Justin Barlas, who now attends St. Petersburg High School, doesn’t want a time any later because an earlier time is better in order to get lunch when he gets out. On the other side of the argument, Danasia Albritton beautifully said “I need my sleep”. Trinity Smith also “wants to get more sleep in before school”. But for those heading off to high school, they’ll barely see a change.
When the girls interviewed the teachers it wasn’t a debated topic at all. Everyone wanted to see an earlier time stay for Thurgood. Different from the students though, they all seemed to have their own reasons. Mrs. Lance, our orchestra and chorus teacher, “doesn’t want to get stuck in rush hour traffic”. Mr. Reitz a math teacher here at Thurgood, “like(s) to sleep in a little bit but I wouldn’t want to get out so much later”. Not to mention that this change at Thurgood effects many teachers here including Mr. Puckett who have children heading off to high school.
Needless to say a majority of those at Thurgood aren’t pleased with the decision just made by the board which makes me wonder, were the school board officials really taking into consideration the county’s students’ and parents’ opinions when making this decision? It sure doesn’t seem like it.