Annie Wright Schools announced a new late start for high schoolers four mornings per week beginning this fall. The goals of this schedule change, based on research into adolescent health, are to increase opportunities for sleep and exercise.
After polling Upper School families last spring, Annie Wright administrators found overwhelming support for the new schedule, which will delay the academic day from an 8:00 am to a 9:15 am start. Students who play after-school sports may sleep in or use the first hour of the day for a study hall. Students who choose not to play after-school sports (Annie Wright has a no-cut policy) will start the day at 8:00 am, choosing from a range of options for group or personal workouts. Annie Wright already has a full sized gym, weight room and dance studio and will open an additional gym and high school regulation-sized swimming pool this fall.
“The research is overwhelmingly clear,” said Director of Upper School for Girls Jake Guadnola. “Teenagers need more sleep. They also need more exercise. With this schedule, we will accomplish both. I believe it will fundamentally change the way school (and life) feel to our students.”
According to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends a start time of 8:30 am or later, “A substantial body of research has now demonstrated that delaying school start times is an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss and has a wide range of potential benefits to students with regard to physical and mental health, safety and academic achievement.”
Teachers will still arrive at school before 8:00 am to supervise students, help with homework and attend meetings. To make up for lost academic time, the day will end 10 minutes later – at 3:10 pm - before students move on to activities and sports.
“Research tells us that well-rested boys who engage in regular physical activity do better academically AND lead healthier, happier lives – what we all want for our students,” said Director of Upper School for Boys Susan Bauska. In addition to more sleep and regular exercise, the boys will come back to a new state-of-the-art building for their academic classes on the current Annie Wright campus.
According to a comprehensive study by the Washington, DC-based National Sleep Foundation, only 9% of 9th-12th graders get an optimal amount of sleep on school nights, and those who don’t are more likely to be irritable, fall asleep at school and feel depressed. Annie Wright Schools, taking a holistic and student-centered approach, are directly addressing this epidemic.