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Students learn with later school day

GLENS FALLS -- Rest and relax what Glens Falls high school administrators, are hoping their students do to heighten classroom performance.  With a later start time researchers are collecting data, to see if extra sleep means better results.

They say the early bird catches the worm, but book worms may do better at 8:30 than 7:45.  Glens Falls High School is about to finish its first year with a later day with the district doing plenty of its own homework.
   
"I'm not falling asleep in the morning," said senior Cambira Pratt.  That is one thing researchers from St. Lawrence university are noticing as they talk to teachers at Glens Falls High School.  They say the kids are much more engaged in their early-morning classes, with an alarm clock and a period bell ringing later than they used to.

"The middle school students are on the same start time and that would be an easier transition," Pratt said.  "I remember when I was in eighth grade and came to ninth grade it was a little tough to get up early."

Attendance is better as students sleep on average twenty minutes longer.

"Disciplinary issues decrease, students stress and mood levels can improve, and in general what we see is a better more relaxed learning environment," said researcher Dr. Pamela Thacher.

But, a peaceful morning can make for a hectic afternoon.

"If the sports go later, my rehearsals go later, I get to bed later, I get my homework done later.  If I go to bed later and I wake up later I don't really get much sleep back," said student Kaitlin Green.

Student performance will be monitored as final scores are calculated -- they may not shine right away.

"Grades are pushed around by a huge number of other factors, none of which have changed," Dr. Thacher said.  "Socio-economic status, native intelligence, how many activities the kids are doing."

Still, some say they're already hitting the books harder.

"I do my homework more often than not now because I have no excuse," said Gabriel Alagna.  "I do it in the morning if I'm too tired at night."

Many parents and students were initially concerned with the start-time change.  Students who work worried about their jobs and some sports had to be rescheduled.  Fall sports practice happens under less daylight, but the district says the early results are positive enough that they're going to keep the later day through next year.