News

Gunn to move to later morning start time

Principal announces shift from 7:55 to 8:25 a.m., citing benefits of sleep

Gunn High School students will have a chance for an extra half hour of sleep when the school next year moves its morning start time from 7:55 to 8:25 a.m.

Dismissal will move from 3:10 to 3:30 or 3:35 p.m.

News of the change, under consideration by various campus committees since February, came in an email to parents Thursday.

In her "principal's message" to parents, Katya Villalobos cited both pluses and minuses of the change, mentioning extra sleep for students as the No. 1 positive.

"Research demonstrates that 30 to 40 minutes of extra sleep has many advantages, particularly around more focus and less fatigue," Villalobos said.

Teachers and staff also will gain "informal collaboration time" with the change, she said.

The later start time "can also have a positive effect on traffic along the Arastradero Road corridor," she said.

Downsides include a later start time for athletic practices and possible impacts on students with after-school jobs or other obligations.

"We appreciate that a later dismissal will have an effect, and we will work with students to find positive solutions," Villalobos said, adding that the new schedule will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Palo Alto High School last fall moved its morning start time from 7:50 to 8:15 a.m. and simultaneously adopted major changes to the school schedule -- moving from a traditional schedule to a "block" system in which classes meet every other day but for twice as long.

Chris Kenrick

Comments

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Posted by New-Start-Time
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm

> The later start time "can also have a positive effect on traffic
> along the Arastradero Road corridor," she said.

This is probably true. Currently the traffic dies off on some parts of the Charleston-Arastradero drops off dramatically after 8:05AM. This starting time will move all of the Gunn traffic out of the 7:30M-8:05M drive time window.


Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Don't know about the commute to Gunn, but the change in time has made a difference to my biking Paly student.

In the past, the bike ride was relatively easy as there was no traffic. But, we have to pass very close to at least 3 elementary/middle schools whichever route to get to Paly and this makes a very big difference to the amount of vehicles as well as bikes (often parent/child bike caravans).

So the 25 minutes later start does not mean 25 minutes more sleep as the bike ride is now 10 minutes longer. We are enjoying the later start but the alarms are now set just 10 minutes later.

Just thought it worth sharing.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

This is really good news for student social-emotional health. Katya Villalobos has done a terrific job leading on a difficult issue that is crucial to improving teen mental health. 8:35 is still pretty early -- perhaps if people feel good about this result they can look at making it 8:50 or 9:00 -- even an extra 15 minutes is important according to many experts. Many studies link sleep deprivation to depression and suicidality:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

as well as to car accidents:

Web Link

Just yesterday a study was released showing the link of sleep deficit to bullying behavior:

Web Link

This is a great stride forward on a reform mentioned in Project Safety Net item P-8. There are other important changes in P-8 as well that need to be addressed: excessive homework, test and project stacking, and and advisory.


2 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

How come Paly could not move their start time to 8:30, as Susan Schultz tried to do?


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

The bullyng link to sleep deficit was about kids who have a sleep disorder. It's not going to be affected by a later school start.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

How about block scheduling at Gunn?


Like this comment
Posted by Fine
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Well, this is fine. I seriously doubt it makes a meaningful difference either way, but in that case, might as well if it gives the social-emotional health gang some satisfaction.


Like this comment
Posted by gunns ok
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Gunn already has a modified block schedule that is working just fine.


Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

@parent

You are incorrect. It is not only about sleep disorders, according to the researchers themselves, who stated:

"What this study does is raise the possibility that poor sleep, FROM WHATEVER CAUSE, can indeed play into bullying or other aggressive behaviors -- a major problem that many schools are trying to address," O'Brien says in a statement. "Our schools do push the importance of healthy eating and exercise, but this study highlights that good sleep is just as essential to a healthy lifestyle." (emphasis added).

The scientists went on to state that they found that it was being sleepy during the day, rather than any disordered breathing, that was predictive of bullying.

I'm not a sleep scientist or a doctor but when my kids had too many sleepovers they were really crabby and tended to be naughty. So this is a case of the science proving what moms already know. Now if we could get the schools to stop assigning so much homework we might have a chance to get our kids to bed at a decent hour. Later start is a great start but we need to give them the ability to go to bed earlier rather than staying up until all hours, crying in the case of some of my girls, trying to get it all done for tomorrow.

As a member of the "social emotional gang" (what should our colors be?) I applaud this!
MLD



Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

A welcome change.


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Posted by Greg
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:46 am

They should just make school half-day. Let's pamper the kids some more so when they get into college and the real world, they will be ready for it! (Yes, it was meant to be sarcastic)


Like this comment
Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:26 am

I just hope the kids don't stay up 1/2 hour later each night.


Like this comment
Posted by onlytroubleis
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

Overall this is probably a good thing, but sports practices will be going on till 7pm, and lacrosse and soccer till much later. Can't have it all.


Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Kudos to Principal Villalobos for making such a significant change in her first year as principal of Gunn. Not an easy change to make with the various constituents but she managed to not only get it done but with much less controversy and drama. Very impressive.


Like this comment
Posted by soccer mom
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Thank you Principal Villalobos for enacting this important change on behalf of my son and the other students at Gunn. Coming from Midtown and battling the traffic and back ups on Charleston at Alma and El Camino compounded with Terman traffic in the mornings is a challenge for the most seasoned driver - not to mention a novice behind the wheel. I will rest easier and so will my son answering to a later alarm with reduced traffic - a real win for our teens.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Many thanks to Principal Villalobos and everyone else who worked to make this happen. As someone who has done the research on teen health, I believe this will have a positive impact on the students. Some of the commenters here seem nostalgic for a more Dickensian treatment of students. Perhaps a nice re-reading of Nicholas Niclkeby would take the edge off. The lives of PA students are difficult enough without forcing sleep deprivation on them.


Like this comment
Posted by Vicki Dempsey
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

What does this mean for kids in the Hills who ride the bus?


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Has anyone considered the probable fact that these teens aren't getting enough sleep because they're up 'til all hours texting, e-mailing, my spacing, etc.? Maybe if parents told them no electronics after.....9 PM, and took away the machines, they'd read ( yes,a book!)and fall asleep at a decent hour. I don't recall having any trouble getting to sleep and getting up to go to school. Of course, I had no phone or TV in my room (computers didn't exist). Pampering these kids now will only lead to trouble having them take responsibility later. Or maybe their parents will go to college with them and petition for later starting hours. And then jobs. Where does it end?


Like this comment
Posted by New Gunn Mom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Good things are happening at Gunn. Thank you, Katya, for your good work.


Like this comment
Posted by haha - student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 3, 2011 at 10:14 pm

In the words of my wise AP Bio teacher today...

"They're not addressing the real problem. This changes nothing for sleep deprivation in students."


Like this comment
Posted by haha - student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

However, retracting on my previous quote of my teacher, I do welcome the later start... it means it will be sunny(er) and warm(er). That's always a welcome change. Just don't expect kids to suddenly not be sleepy in class anymore, that's all...


Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 4, 2011 at 7:32 am

Villalobos, please produce or cite the sources of the sleep studies that you mention in your message to parents? There ate NOT any which embrace this concept of 30 mins more sleep producing such an impact. My research failed to find any evidence to support your statement. The kids are already saying that they are going to stay up 30 mins extra at night. The poor winter sport jocks will be getting home even later in the darkness. The Gunn traffic will run into the business park traffic which arrives at work between 8:00 am -9:00 am. Teachers will also take advantage of the later start to sleep in NOT to have informal chit chats with each other. The commute home will be terrible for teachers who live in the south bay. Once again PAUSD acts in haste to push through a vanity project with little regard for factual information which does not support the vanity of the project owner,


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 4, 2011 at 7:58 am

Unfortunately, a 30 minute later start will not address the REAL problems at Gunn. There is a hostile environment on the campus. Many kids are intolerant of different opinions and people. The new principal has failed to address the real issues. When racist issues arose at an east bay high school, their principal met them head on. He was courageous and warned his study body that he had a ZERO tolerance policy for bigotry and racist symbols. But Gunn's principal has reserved her "courage" for traffic issues - a safe issue.

The 30-minute solution is doomed to failure and won't be fairly evaluated. That is NOT the PAUSD way - fairness. The kids will still be texting, and Face Booking into the wee hours of the morning. The bullies will still be bullying. Racism and intolerance will still walk the "halls" of Henry M. Gunn High.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn mom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:46 am

I agree with Marie. This does nothing to solve the real cause of the problem and would not do anything to help increase the amount of sleep. And it's particularly hard for students who do after-school sports - they would either have to rush to practices or go home later in the evening, and have to stay up extra 30 minutes to do homework anyways.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Marie, you may be right and this may be a terrible idea. If so, the feedback will be clear and they can change it back, with something useful learned. I find it interesting that there is such vehement blow back when the district tries to make fairly minor changes to improve itself - it is a major obstacle to continuous improvement. I see that Casti is ditching the AP's in favor of their own science curriculum. Imagine if PAUSD ever tried to do such a thing - you would be able to see the parental eruptions from space!


Like this comment
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Dear Paul ~

I agree that the atmosphere at Gunn is not healthy and leadership is critical to the culture change that must happen for the sake of student health and well-being.

When individual issues are brought to the administration's attention, they do a decent job attending to them. BUT, they treat each as isolated incidences and do not seem to see the widespread, systemic issues that should be addressed. In fact, assistant principals are notorious be flatly denying any issues at the school, even after having situations brought directly to their attention.

Other school are not shy to set forth basic expectations of courtesy, collegiality, compassion, courage, and charity. These values are not made explicit at Gunn. Instead, there is a pervasive culture of competitiveness, cruelty, and cowardice.

Changing the culture should be the next big challenge Katya and team tackle.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Wow! I've had kids at Gunn for 6 years and their experiences have not been of competitiveness, cruelty and cowardice. Some kids may experience that, and if so it needs to be addressed, but to say that it is the pervasive culture at Gunn is a bit much. We live in Silicon Valley with exceptionally hard charging parents and I think that's more of an influence than parents want to admit.

Thanks Katya, Tom J and the rest of the team for making the start time change.


Like this comment
Posted by gunn parents
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I have not received any information from Gunn regarding this time change...Did I just over look this email? Did parent from Gunn receive an email regarding this time change or this just still an idea? I could not find any info posted on the Gunn website


Like this comment
Posted by gunn parents
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I have not received any information from Gunn regarding this time change...Did I just over look this email? Did parent from Gunn receive an email regarding this time change or this just still an idea? I could not find any info posted on the Gunn website


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

"pervasive culture of competitiveness, cruelty, and cowardice"

What is the basis for this? My kid has been there 3 years, has good friends, enjoys school and activities, etc. Her friends are nice, they seem happy and engaged. I have not seen or heard about this "pervasive culture."


Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

Once again:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Another Gunn Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm

@Misha

I've been at Gunn for 8 yrs now. All three of my kids have enjoyed a positive and nurturing experience at Gunn. Please be open minded and work with the administrators. They DO care!!

As for the issue of time change, I agree it will NOT help our teens. They will continue to text, FB, till late hours. I found the following guideline very helpful: parents, consider setting some guidelines for your teens. They need our help!

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2011 at 10:21 pm

to gunn parents - The principal's message in Thursday's Gunn Connection says Gunn is considering the start time change. My understanding is the official announcement will be made tomorrow, and the new start time will probably be posted on the website when they have agreement and approval for the entire schedule, not just the start time.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm

It's official. Katya sent out an email to all parents today at 3pm. Thanks Gunn admin for giving the new schedule a try!


Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Great idea that finally takes into account the fact that a teen's body is not the same as a mature adult's body. Teens do have a slightly different 'body clock' and so will benefit from the later start time. It has zero to do with the time they go to bed, so save the snide comments, please.


Like this comment
Posted by concerned student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Lee, are you insinuating that Gunn Students will benefit from waking up later only to go to bed later, because they are teenagers?
I, for one, find that totally absurd. The fact of the matter, disregarding other peoples' pseudo-science, is that the reason us students do not get enough sleep is because of the large workload given to us by our teachers. A later start time, which achieves nothing, would actually have an adverse effect on students, messing up their complicated after school extra-curricular schedule, thus causing more stress and augmenting the problems you adults are ineptly trying to fix.


Like this comment
Posted by What happened?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2015 at 8:29 pm

What happened?

The schedule shows Zero period starting at 7:20 AM.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Razor
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 1, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Most students do not have a zero period class.


2 people like this
Posted by Starting gun
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm

But many do. And the classes offered aren't just gym as at Paly but are advanced academics including APs. This just makes it worse. Now we see why the district gave us the late start. It was a bait and switch to get an 8th period in the day. Why not have a double 00 period that starts at 6:25. Let's go for it. China is gaining on you. What are you afraid of?


4 people like this
Posted by Razor
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

But no one is forced to take a zero period class. There are no zero period classes that is only offered zero period. And note that "zero" period has existed for many years prior to the switch to a late start, so there was no "bait and switch" to add an 8th period as it already existed.


Like this comment
Posted by What happened?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2015 at 8:41 am

This is a ridiculous situation.

All these tortured conversation about the problems, and some people simply can't help themselves.

The community can offer only so many warning labels about what could be done to help improve culture. It's clear that some habits can't be broken and the "needs" of a small minority are more important than sound policy.


2 people like this
Posted by Barron Park4
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:23 am


At first glance a later start time might mean to many that Gunn students get to "sleep in" a little longer. But realistically doesn't it just means that many will stay up longer to work on getting their homework and studying finished? Isn't the real issue the workload? Palo Alto high schools (Gunn and Paly) offer an amazing number of AP classes...some students/parents want to take advantage of the large number of AP classes. This is one of the main reasons that people move to Palo Alto, specifically so their children have access to such a large number of AP classes.

When students apply to university, universities take into consideration that high schools in Palo Alto offer an amazing number of AP classes and they expect to see students taking as many as necessary to get into a particular university.

If you go to a high school that only offers 4 AP classes your work load is going to be FAR LESS. Moving the start time later isn't going to change the fact that high schools in Palo Alto offer students an incredibly large number of AP courses and a resulting work load that really isn't conclusive to getting sleep.

I know what the workload is like, I took only 7 AP classes in high school....some of the kids now are taking 10+. I only knew of 3 students in my high school that pushed themselves to take ALL the AP classes (by choice) that were offered at my HS at the time, most were "persuaded" by their families. I don't think the changes discusses on these boards will change the views of these families. I think you have to be really realistic about what is happening....try talking to some of the students at Gunn/Paly....I mean really listen to what they say and it's not to hard to figure it out...

It's families across the board, EVERY type of family is pushing their child...pushing and pushing to get them to the top/ahead...so they can get into the best university. Even those families that you look at that never seem to "push" they do, they do it at home...you don't suspect it but I can guarantee that they are pushing their children as well...my family did, everyone just thought I was driven (nope!, although I am now), I don't regret it...I was lucky they pushed just enough and not too much and there was a balance.......but a lot of my friends after leaving HS and accomplishing so much in HS were burnt out and ended up dropping out or having to take an extended break from their Ivy League or top tier universities...


Like this comment
Posted by Peeking Behind the Curtain Again
a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:28 am

The change makes time for an added half hour of homework. Hopefully that's not for each class.


4 people like this
Posted by Look Here
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:42 am

Note this is an old thread from June 2011.

A look at Menlo-Atherton's schedule, and they start at 8:45 MWF, and 9:25 (Tues.) and 9:40 (Wed.).


3 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2015 at 11:10 am

It would be wonderful if Paly would do the same. A 9 am start time would be even better. It is a struggle to get my night owl out of bed and to his 1st period class every morning. I'm sure we're not the only family with this issue.


Like this comment
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2015 at 11:19 am

@ Paly Parent

Paly did change their schedule a few years back. First period used to start at 7:55 AM! My oldest child went through Paly at that time. Now it starts at 8:15 AM (OK, ten minutes before Gunn, but still much better than 7:55).

My kids are done with PAUSD so I have not stake here. I too would have liked a later start time. However, my understanding is that it is impossible because of sports and their meet/competition schedules. All area schools would have to rearrange their schedule to make this possible. Tall order.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Let the kids have some choice in their life - if they want 0 period, great. If they don't, great. Denying flexibility and treating students as if they all have the same sleep schedule is infantilizing.


Like this comment
Posted by sea seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Great decision.

Our high school children need more sleep, less TV and they need hands-on apprenticeship like high schoolers in Germany.

Good first step.

Regards


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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