The Early Bird Gets No Worm—A Case For Opening the Stuyvesant Doors Before 7:30

Some students are forced to arrive before school doors open, but staff need time to get set up before they can let them in.

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By Alifa Azad

No one wants to wake up earlier than they have to, yet some students are forced to come to Stuyvesant long before first period starts. Unfortunately for them, the school doors only open at 7:30 a.m. Thus, they must find ways to kill time. What do these students do before 7:30, and what can be done to improve their situation?

Many students arrive early because of inconveniences caused by the rigid schedules of the trains they take to school. The LIRR, which services students living in distant Queens, has a notoriously infrequent schedule. Trains depart at around 6:32 a.m., 7:04 a.m., and 7:09 a.m. However, students who take the latter two trains report that they have to rush in the morning, and the slightest subway delay results in getting to school late. Consequently, students who prioritize consistent and timely attendance are left with no choice but to take the 6:32 a.m. train. “The 7:04 or 7:09 trains arrive later than I would like and I usually have to rush to school if I take those trains,” freshman Shirley Liu explained. These students usually get to school around 7:15 a.m.

While some people commute to school by car, so they can comfortably arrive after 7:30 a.m., this is simply not an option for many people. “Both my parents have to work. It’s definitely not an option for me,” junior Hannah Choi said. For these students traveling from Queens, the LIRR is their only option.

Students at Stuyvesant feel that they can’t afford to be late because some teachers strictly enforce that students are punctual. Students find that getting to school early alleviates some of the anxiety around getting to school on time. In an e-mail interview, freshman Elysia Chen stated, “I want to be early so I’m not missing any class and some teachers stated that they hate lateness.” 

Math Team, for instance, is a first-period elective that strictly punishes lateness. If students are late by even a few minutes, they get a grade deduction. The penalties can get so harsh to the point where students are dropped from the class. “I want to be on time, so I don’t get kicked out of math team,” freshman Brendon Xie added in an e-mail interview. This fear of lateness encourages LIRR riders to take earlier trains, which bring them to school before the doors open. 

Students wish that the school doors opened sooner so that they could have a good environment to wait in. It is warm and quiet inside the school building, and students can always find somewhere to sit comfortably. “I feel like it would be more convenient for us. Just being able to sit down and be in the cafeteria [would be nice],” freshman Shirley Liu said.

School doors opening earlier could provide students with a better opportunity to get work done. “Because I have time before school opens, sometimes I’ll leave homework for then,” junior Patrick Kim added. Currently, with the loud and bustling environments that nearby stores provide and the fragmentation of time caused by needing to walk to a store and then to the school building in ten-minute intervals, students face an unsuitable environment to be productive. 

Students also wish that the doors opened sooner so that they have access to school services. For instance, using the bathroom would become much easier, as the only store that opens early that is relatively near Stuyvesant and has a bathroom is Whole Foods. Additionally, using the school’s printers would be highly convenient. “Usually, the lines for printing are really long, and it takes quite a long time to print things if you don’t get in by 7:30 or so. I think the printing would just go by much more smoothly if we allowed people to go in [early], because it takes a while,” Liu said.

Some students state that they don’t feel opening school doors earlier is necessary because there are many stores around the school where they can wait until 7:30 a.m. “The doors opening at 7:30 isn’t too bad because McDonald’s, Starbucks, and a handful of cafes are nearby to meet with friends and stay warm,” freshman Milan Gittens said.

However, some students feel that they are inconveniencing the stores by regularly occupying customer space without spending money. “I felt extremely out of place at McDonald's because I wasn’t going to buy anything from the store. The average student can’t necessarily afford to be buying about five dollars worth of food every single school morning when they don’t have any source of steady income. I do feel inclined to buy something, which is why I have on multiple occasions, but that in itself presented another problem. Trying to finish food that I didn’t even want [before] 8 in the morning after waking up at 6 was terrible,” freshman Seoyeon Yu explained.

Additionally, stores do not provide the quiet, focused environment that the school building does. “Sometimes it’s a little crowded in [McDonald’s], so we can’t even sit down. There's [also] a lot of music playing, and it's kind of loud. It's not a good environment for us to be in if we want to do work,” Liu said.

One concern with opening school doors sooner is staff preparation. School administrators stated that the preparation processes that occur before school doors are opened are more extensive than what students may think. Opening school doors before 7:30 a.m., though not impossible, would require a shifted schedule for many school staff members. “Prior to 7:30 a.m. the kitchen staff are preparing breakfast for students; faculty members are arriving and arrangements are being made for any substitutes needed so that every day at Stuyvesant, classes begin on time [and] run smoothly,” Business Manager and Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram wrote in an e-mail interview. “The building is opened at a time [when] there are enough staff members [who] have begun their contractual ‘day’ and are present at Stuyvesant so that scanners can be operational as well as supervision in the building for students entering and having breakfast in the cafeteria,” Ingram added.

Ultimately, the issue of when the school's doors should open is a complex one. Students wish for the doors to open sooner so that they can have a warm, quiet, and productive space to wait in, but school staff need time to get set up, meaning administrators would have to make sacrifices to open school doors before 7:30 a.m. Alas, there needs to be compromise and communication between student demand and administrative technicalities for this issue to resolve itself.