The following is a letter to South Orange Maplewood School District Superintendent John J. Ramos, Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron, and the South Orange Maplewood School District Board of Education, which has been reprinted with permission. 

We, the concerned residents and parents of South Orange and Maplewood, are writing to urge you to make the start time for Columbia High School later, in order to promote the health, well-being and academic success of our students.

Major studies show that most adolescents suffer from sleep deprivation when their school day begins before 8:30 AM. Most teens undergo a "phase delay" in their sleep patterns, causing them to naturally fall asleep later and wake up later in the morning than they did in early childhood. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that high schools start class after 8:30 AM.

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According to the CDC, 70% of all teens are sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation endangers children's health and safety, contributing to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, obesity, and car crashes, among many other issues. Inadequate sleep is also associated with poorer academic and athletic performance. 

Schools that have changed to later start times report that their students show improved attendance, improved academic performance, higher standardized test scores, increased efficiency in homework, lower rates of depression, fewer disciplinary referrals, and increased total sleep. One city experienced a 70% reduction in teen car crashes. 

We believe a later school start will benefit all our high school students.

Supporters can add their name to this letter, which is on Change.org.