Students at some Indiana schools will have to get used to more than just going back to school. In a few districts, the school day will start earlier than in previous years. To explore this issue, we went directly to the source. Bloomington South High School Junior Eleanore Fuqua is a young up and coming student journalist and she brings us the inside scoop when it comes to waking up early for class.
The general feeling radiating from within the crowded hallways of Bloomington High School South – confusion. Confusion about the length of the school day, the new schedule of classes, the shortened passing periods and longer lunch. It is a year of change within Monroe County public schools, and students and teachers alike are struggling to keep up. For some, the numerous modifications to the basic school day have provoked anger. For others, the time allows for added educational possibilities. Many though, fall into the “gray area,” – still undecided about the impact of the adjustments. The first change comes in the form of an earlier start to school. The day now begins at 7:40am, 20 minutes earlier than last year. But what’s 20 minutes, right? Wrong. This amount of time holds extra significance for me, as a cross-country runner. A 20-minute 5k is the goal of many competitive racers. In other words, the sleep lost in each high schooler’s morning due to the longer school day is equivalent in time to about a three-mile run. Sleepy teenagers are grumpy teenagers, a fact apparent in my first period, AP Language and Composition. Bleary-eyed students stare straight at the walls, ignoring a discussion about the correct annotation method. Our school system seems to be aware of a young person’s exceptionally high need for sleep, as they have sent around parental reminders about the need for us to get enough shut-eye each night. Why then, would they eliminate one third of an hour’s sleep?
This is a burning question for many a student, including my classmate Emily Wagner, “I don’t know if these changes were for the teachers, but they definitely weren’t for us. I’ve seen kids with their heads down on their desks which just proves yet again that we need our sleep,” she said. Teachers too are suffering, with declining numbers of attentive students. However, the school system did cut their teenagers a break each Wednesday morning, when school starts at 8:25am. This is a nice change of pace but has caught many off guard. The morning of the first Wednesday of the school year, the 18th, turned a bit chaotic when neither teachers nor students knew the actual time of the first bell. On the other end of the school day, the last bell rings at 2:55pm, 25 minutes later than last year, a net gain of 45 minutes. For South specifically, these extra 45 minutes are being utilized as “Panther Plus,” a time spanning from 10:05-10:50am each morning during which students can seek help in specific classes. The details of this resource period are still under wraps, leaving even some teachers feeling out of the loop. The idea of “Panther Plus” has received mixed reviews. For my friend Sara Nemes, it is an exciting prospect, “Although it has been difficult to adjust to a lot of change, the new period allows for more opportunities and might be a positive thing for South,” she said. As for me, one of the confused students lurking in the “gray area,” the resource period could be a godsend with both honors physics and yearbook deadlines on the horizon. The only remedy for this confusion will be time and experience with the new system.