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The Student News Site of Darien High School


The Student News Site of Darien High School


Inside the Darien Parent Proposal for a Later School Start Time

The Darien Board of Education will be considering whether or not DHS students can get a little more shut eye
Christian Abraham
While DHS starts school at 7:40 AM, surrounding schools, like Greenwich High School, start as late as 8:30 AM.

For most students at Darien High School, starting school later in the day and catching up on sleep would be a gift. However, it seems like this dream has always been just out of reach due to lack of change and action. But what if I told you this dream is closer to becoming a reality than ever before?

For the past few months, a group of Darien parents have been petitioning for Darien Public Schools to start later by creating a Facebook group and getting signatures of support as well as speaking multiple times at the Darien Board of Education meetings. I was able to talk with Tegwyn Collins, one of the leaders of this proposal and a Darien parent, about the petition for a later school start, the benefits of starting school later, and most importantly, why it is significant to DHS students.

In recent years, our school and others have taken big steps in prioritizing mental health in schools. This is especially important at the high school level where 20% of adolescents may experience any mental health problem in any given year according to World Health Organization. This is seen at DHS through the Wellness Center and the recent hiring of a mental health/Wellness Center director. DHS and our administration has been quick to support students in times of need which is amazing. Yet, nothing has been done to improve one of the most impactful aspects of a student’s physical and mental health: sleep.

The proposal for a later school start time has been in the works since the Fall of 2022. (Photo: Board of Education)

Along with helping start the Facebook group, Collins also created a fact sheet that proved why sleep was so important. According to the fact sheet, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a school start of 8:30 am or later with benefits including lower rates of depression, including suicidal ideation, improved safety from fewer car accidents and less substance use, improved academic importance, and more. With a start time of 7:40 am and many students arriving at school around 7:20 or earlier for club meetings or extra help, DHS is close to an hour earlier than the recommended school start time from the AAP. Many of Darien’s neighboring high schools have later start times as well, with Greenwich starting at 8:30 am, Wilton starting at 8:20 am, and New Canaan, Newtown, and Westport all starting at 8:00 am. When discussing the surrounding towns later start times, Collins said that, “If we want to do the best for our kids, this seems like a logical step we can take that has benefits in every aspect of a childs life.”

A common argument for those not in favor of changing school times is its impact on after school extracurriculars and sports. A simple solution would be to look towards our neighboring towns as a guide of what Darien’s next steps should be. For example, in 2016, Greenwich Public Schools decided to start their schools later for the 2017-18 school year, with the high school starting over an hour later at 8:30 am. By looking at what other towns changed and kept, as well as their successes and failures with implementing later school start times, Darien can have a model to refer back to and use as a source of inspiration.

The timeline of this proposal started all the way in September of 2022, when Collins first connected with Deborah Richie and Brian Edgar, two other Darien citizens who shared her passion and interest about the matter. Together, they approached the BOE in the fall and were told that despite the importance of their proposal, the BOE couldn’t make it a priority at the time. Later, the group reconvened and realized that their effort would be more impactful if it wasn’t just the three of them approaching the Board and the Facebook group was created. The group has grown quickly, says Collins, starting with around 100 when they first went to publicly comment and now the group has roughly 325 supporters, just through word of mouth.

If we want to do the best for our kids, this seems like a logical step we can take that has benefits in every aspect of a childs life”

— DHS parent Ms. Tegwyn Collins

However, the group has faced a setback at the most recent board meeting, with Collins explaining, “the tune shifted a little bit where it was said that the topic would be explored preliminarily in the spring, so the timeline has been pushed out already, which is a little disheartening but we are trying to continue keeping more momentum.” Despite this obstacle, the group is moving full steam ahead and is excited that their effort has been recognized by the BOE as a topic of importance.

So, what should DHS students take away from this effort? I asked Collins this question and she responded by saying, “Having a later start time is one policy change that can benefit every single high schooler in our town. It can help give them an even better footing for their future and that is something we all strive for as parents.” This is a point that cannot be argued. Despite the amount of workload you get at school or how busy your schedule is with athletics and extracurriculars, sleep can only help us, not hurt us. The sooner we act in giving our support to this proposal, the faster we can bring it to reality.

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About the Contributor
Rose McCarthy
Rose McCarthy, Editor-in-Chief Online
Rose is a junior who started writing for Neirad in 2022. She likes to write about student life, pop culture, current events, and review books and movies. When she’s not writing, you can probably find her reading, playing basketball, hanging out with her friends, or listening to music. In addition to Neirad, she’s a member of the Best Buddies club and other clubs outside of DHS. Rose's favorite food is sushi and her favorite movies are 10 Things I Hate About You and The Shawshank Redemption.

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