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Quaker Valley H.S. Experimenting With Later Start Times, Says Students Need More Rest

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LEETSDALE (KDKA) -- Starting classes later for teenage students is becoming a national trend.

Experts say many kids just aren't ready to learn at 7 a.m., so that has many school districts in the Pittsburgh area rethinking what time they will ring their first bell.

Quaker Valley began a bit of an experiment this year, starting first period at 8 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m. So far, it's been a big success. Now other schools, like Pine-Richland are thinking about starting their day later, too.

"They just had kind of the zombie look, and they looked tired. So I think the shift by 15 minutes has definitely made a difference," said Quaker Valley High School Principal Deborah Riccobelli.

The students agree.

"I've noticed that my first period class, I tend to be more awake," said Quaker Valley junior Noah Higgins.

"Student brains, especially high schoolers, really don't wake up until a little later in the morning," said another student.

Studies confirm it. The National Sleep Foundation says teens require nine hours of sleep for optimal performance. What they've found is high schoolers are averaging fewer than seven hours sleep.

But it's not because they're goofing off all night.

The same study finds the kids have hectic schedules with after-school activities, jobs, family obligations and homework. Higgins is a member of the Quaker Valley hockey team.

"We have games starting at 9 o'clock at night. That means an hour and 20 minute game, I get home around 11:30. Then, I start my homework," said Higgins

So, the school is considering starting class at 8:30 a.m. next year.

But the late start time isn't great for everyone. It will mean changes in the bus schedule and a later start for the elementary and middle schools, and that could affect parents' schedules, too.

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