Free State High School senior Alex Clark gets out of bed at 5:15 a.m. every morning to make it to his zero-hour class, advance placement government and politics.
The crazy thing is that it’s not even a required class for him.
“I like school,” Clark says. “I think government is one of the better classes.”
Zero hour starts at 7:05 a.m. for the students who decide to take it. And there are a few reasons why getting up earlier than most of their classmates is worth it.
“It definitely helps when you want to get all your classes in,” says Free State senior Nadia Imafidon. “If you want to get out of school early or finish your homework early, then you can just take a zero hour.”
Experts say teens need at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Zero hour doesn’t help that. A couple hours of missed sleep a night may not seem like a big deal, but can create a noticeable sleep deficit over time, according to Kidshealth.org.
Students do get a few chances to sleep in on some Wednesdays, and late arrival comes into play. But getting up early, even if the class is worthy, isn’t easy for teenagers.
“It’s very hard,” says Imafidon. “I have the hardest time getting up in the morning. My mom has to pull me from the bed just to get me up, but I do appreciate coming in early because I like getting things done.”
Clark feels the same way. He says he tries to get to bed by 9 p.m.
“Usually you have to go to sleep pretty early to be able to actually function in these classes,” he says.
There are perks to showing up to school early.
“Sometimes the teachers will let you get out early,” says Imafidon. “When you take tests, we usually just leave after we’re finished so we can have up to 30 minutes not doing anything.”
That’s not to say these kids skip through the learning process.
“This isn’t the only AP class we’re in,” says Clark. “You have a lot of homework after school and you have to make sure you get that done. It’s definitely a commitment.”