Late Starts and How They Affect the Student Body


Senior Ethan Sosland falls asleep in his yearbook classroom. Image by Zach Hardy

Zach Hardy, Writer

Late-start Wednesdays are one of the newest additions to the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) calendar, and they are already making waves within the school community. Late starts allow students to sleep in, do homework, or just relax before starting their day.  


According to a survey sent out to all HBHA middle and high school students, 50% said that they use the time to sleep in, and 17% said they use their extra time to do homework. The other 33% of responses consisted of going to the gym (11%), seeing family (11%), and going to morning services outside of school (11%).


Nationwide Children’s Hospital ran a study which concluded that teens only get 7 hours of sleep compared to the 9 to 9.5 that is recommended. For at least 50% of HBHA’s middle and high school students, the late start Wednesdays could help them get an extra two hours of sleep. Some students elaborated on their survey responses saying the extra sleep helps them stay focused in classes.


Not getting enough sleep can also negatively affect mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, and for those who drive, drowsy driving. Late starts are not only a way to get some extra rest, but can also improve students’ day-to-day life in and out of school.

Junior Asher Glass dozes before AP Lang. Image by Zach Hardy

According to the survey, 64% of students said they loved the late starts, 7% said they are fine, 16% said they are neutral, while 10% of students responded negatively.


Students were also asked to suggest changes that could improve late starts. The two most prevalent responses were to make late starts more frequent and to have prayers more easily available on those days, since usually, HBHA provides easy access to davening before school.

When asked how their parents feel, students that can drive themselves to school said that their parents either don’t have an opinion or like the late starts because it gives their children more time to do schoolwork or sleep. On the other hand, most parents whose children cannot drive themselves to school said they did not like the late starts because it interfered with their work schedule.

While late starts affect both students and parents in the HBHA community, there is also an internal reason for the change.


Head of School Adam Tilove said in an interview that he implemented the late starts so the teachers “can have the time to wrap their heads around new ideas, or to change the culture of the school, or to plan meaningful programs.” Teachers come in like normal on late-start Wednesdays, except instead of teaching their morning classes, they meet, learn, and discuss ways to make the school better and advance the curriculum.

One of the highlights Tilove is pushing is project-based learning (PBL). Tilove envisions PBLs as “interdisciplinary” learning. He says, “There’s a big question, and that question is something that your English teacher and your history teacher and your Jewish studies teacher, and maybe even your math and science teachers, are all working together to help you guys wrestle with these big ideas.”

Senior Annie Fingersh poses with her audience for her civic engagement project after presenting during her junior year. Image courtesy of Annie Fingersh

This new approach to learning aims to help students apply their learning instead of just repeating it. Tilove notes that “we’re experimenting” with these morning teacher meetings. “Sometimes you figure things out by doing them”… We weren’t going to have all the answers ahead of time. We just needed to start and to edit and adapt and change as we go along.”


This new addition to the calendar might help students get more sleep and feel more rested and ready for the day, but the main reason late starts were implemented is to give teachers time to enhance their students’ learning and start to implement this new way of teaching.


With benefits coming to students and teachers alike, and the overall response from the school body being positive, late start Wednesdays are a welcome addition to the HBHA calendar this year.