Wake Up, Harvard-Westlake

Zoe Goor

Every morning, as students trudge down the sidewalk in front of the Taper Gymnasium at 7:40 a.m. with their heads bent over their cellphones and their ears plugged with AirPods, most other students in Los Angeles are languorously enjoying some much needed additional minutes on TikTok, as their school day will not begin for at least another 40 minutes. The case has been made many times before that adolescents need a later start time to the school day for academic reasons. This school should also start later. For example, Finley Edwards said in a study that “a [one hour] later start time leads to a two percentile point gain in math test scores.” 

Three hundred seventeen upper school students take one of the school’s buses to school. The busses start picking students up as early as 6:05 a.m., for those who live in especially distant areas.

Going to the school is, for many students, a life changing opportunity that allows them to get an education at an elite institution and participate in numerous extracurriculars. However, if one has to wake up at 6 a.m. or earlier to catch the bus, one is at a disadvantage to one’s peers who live nearby to school and do not have to wake up as early.

Exhaustion, a product of an extremely early wakeup time, affects one’s ability to concentrate, remember important information and stay motivated, which means that an early start time for school does a disservice to teens who live far away.

Crossroads, Campbell Hall, Oakwood, Marlborough and LAUSD all start, at earliest, at 8:30 a.m. The state of Calif. mandated that public schools cannot start before 8:30 a.m., a choice that was motivated by the abundant scientific research that says that a later start helps students to perform better academically. Despite all of this evidence, the school, which boasts that the student body represents over 150 different zip codes, is failing to provide all students with equal support by keeping school’s start time at 8 a.m.

By pushing the school’s start time back to 8:30 a.m.,  the administration can level the playing field for students who live far away. A later start time is not only a question of convenience and time spent on the bus, but it is also a question of fairness. If school is to be an equitable environment where external factors do not affect one’s ability to compete in a highly rigorous intellectual and athletic environment, then classes should start thirty minutes after they currently do so that all students can get an amount of sleep that allows them to function at the high level that the school requires.