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Sleepless Nights

The internal clock shift, early high school start-up times and a promise made to spend quality time with a friend, finally, makes balancing social and academic obligations difficult, not to mention the nine hours of sleep teens will try to get a night.

In a study conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, nine hours is the amount of sleep the average teenager needs, but the average that teenagers get is seven due to a shift of their internal clock through puberty.

At South, you need 28 credits to graduate, which means taking harder and harder classes until you’ve reached your mark. South is especially known for encouraging students to join the 45+ clubs they sponsor here, not including auditions for the fall musical, spring play and athletics.

Older students are also balancing jobs alongside homework and other activities, resulting in less than even the seven hour average for most.

South’s teachers express avid concern in how well their students are performing in their classrooms. They want their students to use their class time wisely to get their work done, resulting in varying amounts of homework from teacher to teacher.

Lowell Messer, English, was happy to explain the pros and cons of a larger homework load.

“Usually my scores are fairly representative of how students do on homework, you know? So students who consistently do the work that I ask them to do…typically do better on the test,” Messer said, reclining back in his chair.

Messer clarified that the workload varies between the difficulty levels of his classes.

“My AP kids, I expect them to take a lot more responsibility for their learning,” Messer said. “I give them…homework that they’re expected to complete by the end of the quarter on their own time.”

Messer gives his AP class and his Enriched Junior Class ample time to finish assignments and projects, and with the classes that give students more responsibility, it means more homework to grade for him.

On his stance on how teachers should be grading homework, Messer was neutral on the subject. He said that standard grading with a score was helpful in its own way, but so was a completion grade. There was a need for a balance between assignments, as it’s “hard to grade every assignment standardly.” The feedback of standard grading helps for when teachers don’t know if their students are doing the work right.

Homework loads like this are to be expected from multiple teachers throughout the school, but how students handle the stress of this school’s balancing act is a completely different playing field.

Tatum Oliphant, a sophomore, shared insight on how a student’s average day goes with homework.

“I have algebra homework, and chemistry homework is taking notes after school. Personal finance is all virtual, and I don’t have any homework in Spanish,” Oliphant said, “and right now I don’t have a school activity, but next semester I’ll have swim team, and that’s when it gets really hard.”

Oliphant struggles with the workload against her personal schedule; she laughed while saying, “Sorry, I don’t balance this stuff very well.”

Oliphant has a fair amount of free time that results in her getting her work done, but like many other students at South a multitude of appointments come up, sports become a priority and sleep also has to be on the schedule.

“I lose, like, a large amount of sleep because of my homework,” Oliphant admitted. “It’s hard getting your work done when you get five-ish hours of sleep a night.”

This is a reality for over half of the students here at Park Hill South, and the stress of grading is also resting on the teacher’s shoulders. What do you think about the amount of homework teachers give? Does it give you time to adjust to your internal clock, wake up early enough to make it to the bus and just maybe hang out with your friend outside of school?

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