Later start time displays progress


Midway Staff

Sports and Leisure Editor Amon Gray argues the late start time is a step in the right direction toward student’s wellbeing.

Amon Gray, Sports and Leisure Editor

My first days on Lab’s historic campus were spent in Elizabeth Roche’s Nursery 4 classroom, which was always filled with Crayola markers, wooden blocks, picture books and other tools to prepare young children to learn. In the 14 years since then, I have seen Lab grow and change — from the new buildings to the renovations to the expansion of enrollment. The most recent of these changes will be a later start to the school day.

In May, Laboratory Schools Director Tori Jueds announced in an email to the community that starting in the 2023–24 school year, middle and high schoolers will begin their school days at 8:30 a.m. This decision is not only an important one for student’s well being but also an important step in student voice leading to major change.

This implementation of the late start has been in progress since the school’s 2019 Strategic Framework was released. One of the framework goals was to elevate student health and wellness. Along with the later start, this includes health and wellness councils, more discussions around homework and workload, and monitoring the effectiveness of social emotional learning policies. 

The school’s rhetoric and actions on these issues has significantly changed since 2016, when I started middle school. At that time the middle and high schools were beginning to collect data through the health and wellness survey to address problems around workload and stress. 

Despite the later start time, the school day at the middle and high schools will end no later than 3:30 p.m. This means some school days will be shortened by about 30 minutes. It will be the role of the scheduling committees to decide the school’s priorities in what time should be kept as part of the school day. 

Some students and teachers have voiced apprehension about these trade-offs. However, all research done within and outside the school has shown that a later start time will improve the wellbeing of students. This has been shown by the surveys the school has conducted as well among students, faculty and parents done in partnership with Challenge Success as well as additional research done by the scheduling committees.

Many of the schoolwide changes have been a result of expanded enrollment, which has grown by about 29% in my time at Lab. This led to both benefits and drawbacks in the classroom but also showed the school’s need for change to accommodate its larger size and create more equitable systems. 

As a senior, I will not see the late start time implemented. I do feel confident that the school is a better place than it was when I arrived, and I hope the school will continue this progress toward student wellbeing.