The Zombies of Copper Hills: A Call for Change


Kassidy Babcock

Zombies roam the streets, much like students roam the halls.

Bailey Van Wagoner, Managing Editor, Business Manager, Web Editor

Moans and groans echo through the hallway from the throngs of bodies who trudge into the building. The 7:30 a.m. tardy bell rings as these walking corpses shuffle to their seats and prepare for class to begin. Bags under their eyes and sleep still on their minds, they stare absently around the room as the announcements crackle over the intercom.

Various stages of decay are clearly visible. There are those who can still operate normally though at an admittedly slower rate, those who suffer from reduced functionality and awareness, and those who simply lay down at their desk and die.

Unfortunately, this scene is an all-too-common occurrence at Copper Hills. In fact, every morning is more or less like the one just described. You may ask, “Why are all these teenagers turning into zombies?” The answer lies in students’ sleep schedules.

The majority of sleep studies have found that students perform best with 8-10 hours of sleep, but the average teen only gets 7 ½ hours. However, Student Body President, Elvis Amin, suspects Copper Hills students may be getting even less. “I sleep about six hours,” Amin said, “Six or less right now which isn’t too good.” Amin said he thinks most Copper Hills students have similar sleep schedules. This deficit may not sound like much, but it makes a difference in how students function.

Take a successful student like Amin for example. He balances student government, homework, responsibility to his family, and a social life all on six hours of sleep. But, how does this affect his school life? “I think…it just makes me wake up a lot [more] tired and not as motivated for the school day. It gives me less energy to…do my work because now I’m drowsy.” Amin said that having more sleep would help alleviate this sluggishness. It’s probably safe to say that all the zombies who participate in early morning activities, work late, or stay up doing homework – feel the same way.


Most adults would probably say that they should go to bed earlier to get enough sleep, but it may not be that simple. As a child enters adolescence, his/her circadian rhythm shifts. Melatonin isn’t produced until later in the evening, so teenagers naturally go to sleep and wake up later. In addition to this, teenagers are especially susceptible to melatonin suppression in response to light. The combination of these two factors means that high school students produce less melatonin at a later time than children and adults. Yet most school districts start their high schools at such an early time that they disrupt their students’ natural sleep cycles. Students are left with nothing to do but sacrifice their sleep in order to make it to school on time. It’s a wonder that students make it to school at all.

With this information, the solution becomes clear. High schools should postpone the first bell, even if it is just by an hour. A number of high schools across the country have changed their starting bell to 8:30 a.m. to study its effects. The change it has made for the students is astounding. Studies (on these schools) show that students are getting more sleep on average with increased consistency in their sleep schedules. This improved quality of sleep has led to decreased drowsiness, increased attendance, improved grades, higher test scores, and fewer car accidents among the students.

If a later start time is leading high schoolers to perform their best, why hasn’t Copper Hills changed its schedule? Assistant Principal Glen Varga revealed that the biggest problem behind changing the school’s start time is the bus schedule. “We don’t have a lot of flexibility in our start time because the transportation department really governs a lot of the start times for the schools,” Varga said. He went on to say that although he is in favor of a later start time, this change would affect the bus schedules for every school in the district. It would never get off the ground without a consensus among the entire Jordan School District. “In the meantime,” Varga added, “go to bed early, get up early, and let’s get those ‘No-Grades’ cleared.”

The situation may seem hopeless for the zombies staggering through Copper Hills halls, but it doesn’t have to be. Students can have a voice in these issues. The best way for your opinion to make a difference is to share it with those in power. The School Board meetings where members discuss legislative decisions, such as busing schedules and school start times, are open to everyone. Anyone can get on the agenda to make their ideas and opinions heard. In fact, at the end of each meeting, the public is encouraged to speak to the Board members in the public comment section of the agenda. This is the most direct way for students to bring important issues to the attention of the entire Jordan School District.

If students really want to enact this (or any other) change in their school, it is up to them to be the catalysts. Problems that affect students can only be changed with help from the students. So, muster support from the student body. Make allies of teachers and administration. Create a petition. Raise awareness for the problem in your community. Address legislators and those in charge directly. Making changes like this is a lot of work, but Grizzlies have the strength to do it. And so, the responsibility falls on students’ shoulders to stop this zombie apocalypse at all costs. Good luck out there, and don’t get bitten.