Lake Oswego schools are good, but there's always room for improvement. I think Lake Oswego school start times, for junior highs and high schools, should be later in the morning.

According to the Nemours Foundation, teens and adolescents need 8 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night. Many of them do not get enough sleep because of the homework and extracurricular activities. Sleep deprivation causes decreased attentiveness, decreased short-term memory, inconsistent performance and delayed response time. Parents would say we need to go to bed earlier; but, according to the National Sleep Foundation, high school-aged children undergo a shift in their biological 'body clock.' This tells them when to rise in the morning and go to bed at night. Studies have shown that a typical high school student's natural bedtime is 11 p.m. or later. Besides the consequences listed above sleep deprivation can be fatal. Fifty-five percent of all car crashes when drivers fell asleep (involved) people under age 26.

The good part of starting later is potentially better student grades. According to a University of Minnesota study, students who received A's averaged about 15 more minutes of sleep than the B students. Students who received B's, averaged about 11 more minutes than C students. C students averaged about 10 more minutes than D students. Every 15 minutes counts. A handful of school districts around the nation are starting school later in the morning. In Edina, Minnesota, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, the high school start time was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30. The results were startling. In the year before the time change, math and verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of Edina's students averaged 1,288. The next year, the top 10 percent averaged 1,500.

In our own county, North Clackamas School District and West Linn/Wilsonville District adopted later start times for their middle schools and high schools. According to a West Linn/Wilsonville representative, the district began later start times September 2001 in response to the results of a brain study associated with sleep and adolescents.

Lake Oswego prides itself on the success of its schools. Just think, if the district adopted later start times for the junior highs and high schools, our students would be more alert and attentive, and our scores would be even better. Our schools are good but there is always room for improvement.

Natalie Calhoon, Lake Oswego, is a seventh grader at Waluga Junior High School.

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