Extra time

March 8, 2015, 7:25 p.m. | By Nicholas Shereikis | 9 years, 2 months ago

In an indecipherable decision, the MCPS BOE pushes start times back 20 minutes

After months of intense deliberation and serious debate, the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education (BOE) has made a momentous decision. I'm talking about a decision that will change high schoolers' lives forever; a decision that will undoubtedly ignite a furious discussion about the true effectiveness of the BOE. In a purely strategic move designed in an attempt to please everyone, the board has announced that beginning next year MCPS will push back the school start time.

By 20 minutes.

Now, some of you may be thinking: Only 20 minutes later? That doesn't really change anything. But here's where you're wrong – it changes EVERYTHING! There's a lot you can get done in 20 minutes. In honor of this historic event, I have taken the liberty of putting together a list of 15 things you can do with your newfound time:

1.Brush your teeth an extra ten times (assuming you follow the widely-accepted two-minute rule).
2.Watch less than half an episode of the new season of House of Cards (or a full episode of SpongeBob SquarePants).
3.Furiously scribble random answers to the homework you forgot to do the night before (because let's be real, your teacher only checks for completion anyway).
4.Do that thing where you repeat a word over and over again until it starts to sound funny and lose all meaning (you know what I'm talking about).
5.Read through all the new and updated stories on Silver Chips Online!
6.Build a card house and then watch it crumble to the ground (like your dreams of ever actually having more time to sleep or be productive).
7.Hone your talents as one of the world's greatest air guitar players.
8.Make 20 servings of Minute Rice.
9.Complete one-eighteenth of a PARCC test.
10.Tweet at the MCPS Board of Education to give us another random snow day.
11.Listen to "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin on replay twice.
12.Ponder the mysteries of the universe (why are we here? How do you know what you think you know?)
13.Watch sports highlights (or play sports videogames. Or any videogames, for that matter).
14.Recite the alphabet backwards as many times as possible.
15.And, lastly, sleep.

The point is, an extra 20 minutes in the morning allows you to accomplish a whole heap of nothing. This decision is completely arbitrary. It's almost as unfathomable as the decision to have a snow day on Monday, March 2 (although as far as I can tell, nobody's complaining).

So let's recap what prompted this. The original concern here was that early start times were messing with kids' natural sleep cycles, which is why parents started the push for a later start time. School staff resisted. So the board took the easy way out - they chose to preserve the existing standard under the guise of change. Do they honestly think this small a change will affect the natural circadian – yes, circadian, go look it up – sleep rhythms instilled in us as a race for millennia? If anything, we're just going to be 20 minutes grumpier in the mornings.

The extra twenty minutes will not make a difference to our sleep schedules.  Photo courtesy of Ben Lickerman.

When all's said and done, this change is strange but relatively harmless, kind of like John Travolta at this year's Oscars. As bizarre as it may be, it's not really going to affect anybody's schedule. Students won't be staying super late for sports or clubs; parents won't have to change their schedule to get their kid to school. Everything will continue as normal (at least as normal as you can get in Montgomery County). Life goes on. Eventually, it'll be hard to remember a time where we didn't go to school at 7:45. Just like how nobody can remember a time when Tiger Woods was a respected golfer.

For the time being, anyway, it seems there's nothing to do but roll with the punches. And no matter how much we might make fun of it, really; who's complaining about an extra 20 minutes?

Tags: mcps Board of Education

Nicholas Shereikis. "Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew … More »

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