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June 2

By Staff | Jun 4, 2011

Middle and High School students should have a later time to start school. Studies show that there are many factors that affect teenagers’ ability to sleep. Teenagers are suddenly exposed to changes in the body and brain at the same time that school and social obligations increase.

During puberty, a person’s circadian rhythm, kept by the body’s ” master clock”, will shift. The hormone called melatonin is released later and later in the day causing teens to fall asleep later at night than they did when they were younger. Since they still need the same number of hours of sleep, they sleep later in the morning. These changes are well documented. See, for example, research articles by Dr. Mary Carskadon and coworkers.

At the same time, there are many external factors for this as well, such as homework and more pushing from teachers, and/or parents to get the best grades. Students usually have jobs, sports, and Boy/Girl Scouts, all of which make kids stay up later.

Here are some disadvantages from getting little sleep: poor grades, sleeping school, car crashes, bad memory, less creativity, and emotional and stress problems. All this together hurts the immune system. there are advantages from getting more sleep or later school start time.

Fewer discipline problems, better grades, and higher test scores are just a few of the benefits middle and high schools experience when they change the start time. Another is better attendance. A search of reliable sources will find a list of these and more.

A U.S. House of Representatives bill was introduced a few years ago called “Zzz’s to A’s” that would encourage middle-high schools to start a 9 a.m. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor a while back, but seems to have died in committee.

I encourage the Jefferson County Schools Board Of Education to revise their start time.

Andrew Spiker

6th grade student, Shepherdstown Middle School

It is sad but not surprising that the Board of Zoning Appeals has allowed the Lowe Mulch Plant to continue to disturb the peace and health of the citizens of Shepherdstown and surrounding communities.

However, the hearing on May 19, has brought to light the extent of the public objections to their operation. The only remaining question is, will they do the right thing? Having a legal right and being a good citizen are not always the same. As a business leader in this community the Lowe family has both a vested financial interest and a civic duty to listen to the public, take a step back and compromise. The pubic has paid the price of incessant noise – often from 6:30 a.m. until late at night – unregulated air pollution and at times a persistent stench. Now it time for the pendulum to swing the other way. Lowe should start their operation at a decent hour – after families are at least out of bed in the morning – shut down no later than 9pm at night and absolutely no grinding on weekends. They should verify that they are only grinding “clean” wood – which means no treated lumber or other scrap construction material. Additionally, they should build a sound absorbing fence and set back their mulch piles and operation at least 200 feet from residential lots.

There is room for varied land use and varied points of view, but if the Lowe family wants to continue to live off the patronage of this community they should learn to be good neighbors.

Alfie Steele


Dear Editor,

Well, the Back Alley Tour and Tea are history, but the sensory highs from leisurely visiting beautiful gardens, examining fascinating historical features of our town, drinking delicious tea, savoring culinary treats, and viewing the work of local artists will linger for a long time. While many of our citizens and visitors expressed thoughtful comments, the most eloquent communication throughout the weekend was the smiling faces and relaxed body language of people simply enjoying themselves. Although the Men’s Club planned and orchestrated what has become a well established annual event, it was a genuine community effort from beginning to end.

If the number of property owners, docents, bakers, logistical staff, servers, kitchen helpers, gardeners, merchants and town officials are totaled up, the number of earnest people involved in putting on the Back Alley Tour and Tea was well over 300. And interestingly enough, many are not even residents of Shepherdstown or members of the Men’s Club!

Assistance came refreshingly from a number of different directions: from business sponsorships, quietly rendered discounts, or waived fees; from students needing volunteer hours, or simply wanting to participate; from “volunteered” spouses, children and friends; from members of several garden clubs with itchy “green thumbs” and from others who just didn’t want to be left out.

In nearly every case committing to put a specific site on the tour meant a lot of hard effort and working against a deadline. Personal and collective pride wouldn’t allow this to be a “come as you are party”- no way! Patrinka Kelch, struggling to put the mill on the tour for the second year in a row, nearly wore a path in her front lawn carrying flowers in and out between rain storms and hollered with joy when water was diverted from Town Run and the mill wheel began to turn again. Bucky Carpenter did a marvelous job of renovating his back yard so people could get a view of town run and his mill. There proved to be no “backsliders” at St. Peters Lutheran Church when it came to scrubbing and cleaning to make the “Old German School” in their graveyard presentable. Nobody can explain how a new fence, flag stone, recycled brick, sod, tons of flowers, and new tables magically appeared in the back yard at Mellow Moods. I won’t mention reports of a faithful docent reportedly being locked behind a fence at her assigned station, or a stalwart Marine being observed marching about town carrying helium balloons. There are enough poignant anecdotes and humorous stories from this tour to write a book.

It is impossible to thank everyone appropriately except by saying that we were all a part of something much bigger than ourselves and we came away with a good feeling. Let’s do it again bigger and even better next year.

Mike Austin

Shepherdstown Men’s Club President