Many studies have been done by organizations such as the American Medical Association, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Sleep Foundation that all point to one conclusion: there are countless benefits to starting high school no earlier than 8:30. Lack of sleep in teenagers has been linked to a host of problems including higher risk of obesity, higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse, poorer grades, increased risk of depression and higher levels of anxiety. My #1 priority as a member of the school board would be to finally move the start time of the high school to at least 8:30 am.
While it’s important to teach students of all ages about the dangers and risk of excessive drug use, I and many other students I have talked to feel that this point is massively overemphasized at the expense of an equally if not more important topic: mental health care. I would support any and all legislation that seeks to help educate middle and high school students about self care, correct common misconceptions, and make sure everyone has a basic understanding of how to reduce stress and anxiety.
Currently, police officers in school are allowed to search the belongings or person of anybody they “reasonably suspect” is participating in illegal activities. This is an intentionally vague term designed to allow cops to legally stop and frisk students. This is a brazen violation of the 4th amendment of the constitution that must be addressed.
Higher focus on abstinence only education has been proven to be linked to increased teen pregnancy and STI rates. Our school’s lack of comprehensive sex education does nothing but prevent students from learning how to properly use contraceptives of all kinds. I would support changing the curriculum to focus on safe sex practices regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Additionally, we must put incredible stress on teaching consent, in addition to providing resources for survivors of sexual assault.
Our planet is facing a crisis more dangerous than any other in our history. By 2030, climate change will have caused irreparable damage to our planet leading to droughts, food shortages, sea levels rising and mass migration. As a community, we should be doing our part in preventing this catastrophe. I will support any steps to move our schools closer to being 100% reliant on green, renewable energy.
Riley Mahon is a current senior at Upper Saint Clair High School.