Op-Ed: How to Make School Less Stressful for Students


Photo Courtesy of Hayley Otten

Students entering Silver Creek High School on a late start.

Imagine being a student during a very stressful school week and staying up late doing homework. Lacking sleep, the student wishes they had an extra hour to get some more rest. As they are sitting in first block they feel a wave of sleepiness wash over them causing them to have a hard time focusing in class. This happens to many students throughout school, and there may be a way to overcome this.
Many students have expressed being tired and stressed after and during a full week of school. But Boulder High School may have found a solution to this problem. They give students a delayed day on Wednesday to catch up on sleep and homework. In return, students feel less stressed and more rested for the rest of the week.
St. Vrain Valley School District gives students and staff late starts which are two and a half hour delays every first Wednesday of the month. However, having just an hour every week like Boulder High instead of two and a half hours every month could help students recuperate. Students look forward to the once a month late start because the pressure put on them isn’t so heavy.
Unlike St. Vrain Valley, Boulder High School gives students late starts every week, so students can get an extra hour of sleep or extra time to do homework in the middle of the week, allowing students to catch up. On a normal bell schedule Boulder High starts at 8:35, while on a late start they start at 9:30.
“Personally, on late starts I wake up at the same time as a normal school day, but I do work… so [late starts] allow me to actually… catch up,” says Madelyn Bowling-Garcia, a junior at Silver Creek High School.
Allowing students to wake up later and have more time to themselves has been proven to help academic performance. According to a 4 year study done in 2017 the relationship between school start times and academic performance. The study shows that when an hour and ten minute time delay was added to the schedules of students the academic success and health of the students improved more than 20% in academics and more students showed up to class.
Teachers could also benefit from late starts every week. During current late starts they have meetings and time to meet with their coworkers in their departments.
“I bring work home constantly because if I’m not planning for the next class, I’m grading, and sometimes during my plan I use it up to support my students’ social and emotional needs,” says Elizabeth Neill, a teacher at Silver Creek High School. “[If there was extra time in the morning teachers would] have more time to plan and prepare… and that means we have more time to meet with our departments and colleagues.”
Not only are students benefiting from less stress because they get more time to accomplish the work, but teachers also wouldn’t feel as much pressure to get their planning and grading done. Additionally, teachers would have more time before school to meet with their departments, which could create better lessons for students.
Students at Boulder High like having the extra time to get work done and sleep in. They also think that the extra time that is given helps them with school work.
“It’s nice to get a little extra sleep and [the late starts] help you get through the week… we also get time to meet with our teachers,” says Allie Grasso, a student at Boulder High School.
Knowing that this system is working and helping students in a nearby district gives the school/district a reason to look into the benefits of this solution to help students’ academic success and health.