For the past two years, I have been exploring a later start time for Lester B. Pearson High School. Despite all that we do as parents and as a school to support a healthy environment for learning, we can always do more.
The adolescent body and mind require an adequate amount of sleep because of their rapid growth period (the second most important growth period after birth) AND to be alert and focused at school for success. http://haltonparentsblog.ca/2011/12/08/the-sleepy-teen-years/. Continued research advocates for at least 9 hours of sleep every night for teenagers, but it also must align with the natural cycle of the adolescent sleep. Given our current start time of 8:15am, teenagers should be ready for sleep by 10:00pm each evening. With the commitments of students beyond the school day, we see many students still sleepy upon their arrival, distracted, late to class, and even lacking nourishment required for proper body and brain function. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Schools that have set later bell times find that students do not go to bed later, but get one hour more of sleep per school night, which means five hours more per week.”
A school boundary change that occurred 3 years ago that redirected graduates of Kilbride Public School to Dr. Frank Hayden High School has caused an increase in the number of single, senior courses at Pearson due to the lower enrollment. The short term solution to accommodate this situation has been the loss of a common lunch. Consequently, we have 4 – 5 senior (Grade 11 or 12) courses per semester scheduled during the Period 3 lunch period with our current start time of 8:15am. Therefore, some senior students miss activities during common lunch such as open gym, Student Parliament activities, collaborating and participating in Club Meetings, fundraising, and socializing. Some of our senior students have even had to endure 4 classes in a row, often eating their lunch during their third or fourth period class.
It is for these reasons I have consulted with our School Advisory Council, Teachers, Staff, and Students about a later start time for our upcoming 2016-17 school year.
The proposed schedule is as follows:
9:15 – 9:17 Open Morning Exercises
Period 1 9:17 – 10:29 am
Period 2 10:33 – 11:45 am
Period 3 11:45 – 12:33 pm COMMON LUNCH
Period 4 12:33 – 1:45 pm
Period 5 1:49 – 3:01 pm
Each year we determine whether any single, senior section needs to be scheduled during the common lunch period; 60 - 80 senior students have required this schedule each semester. Should the 2016-17 year’s timetable warrant the same result (as determined in May 2016), a Period 0 instead of Period 3 will be introduced to meet such a need. In such a case, a senior class would be scheduled from 8:01 – 9:13am; this will still allow for all students to have a common Period 3 Lunch and an additional study period within the school day. No student would have a timetable with 4 classes in a row.
Our school library will remain open for students to do work under the current hours, 7:45 am– 3:45pm daily. This is available for students who choose to come in early to study or should a sibling accompany his/her senior sibling with a Period 0 class. Should a Pearson student pick-up a younger sibling at the end of the school day they will be able to still do so given the dismissal time of 3:10pm at Sir Ernest MacMillan Public School, and 3:35pm at C.H. Norton Public School.
Consultation occurred with our Pearson Parent Advisory Council during the November 2015 meeting; this resulted in positive feedback and we then solicited input from staff and students. At this time I am soliciting input from our parent community through email to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 28, 2016.
Input will be provided to our Parent Council at our next meeting, Tuesday, February 16, 2016, and I invite you to attend. Details of the process for proposing this recommendation to the school board will be further explained at this time.