Opening day of school is an eye-opener for area students.
At 6:20 a.m. the alarm goes off.
Central Park’s Heather Rappold suddenly awakens by the loud sound coming from her phone on her nightstand.
She gives herself about 10 minutes to pull herself together enough to go knocking on the bedroom doors of her 15-year-old twins, Aiden and Audra.
Sure, Aiden and Audra have set their own alarms, but more often than not, it does nothing to wake the twins from their slumber so they can start getting ready for the trek to the State College of Florida Collegiate School in west Bradenton.
In the midst of making and packing lunches, preparing the family dog to come along for the drive to school and trying to accomplish other tasks, Rappold needs to go back to Aiden and Audra to make sure they actually are getting up.
“I constantly walk back to their doors — otherwise they go right back to sleep,” Rappold said. “It’s a problem. I turn the lights on right away, and they always yell at me to turn them off. Sometimes they don’t even remember when I woke them up the first time.”
Even if the twins are able to get out the door by Rappold’s goal of 7 a.m., there’s no guarantee either of the twins will be fully awake between the time they leave their home and the time they pull up to the school.
Sometimes an early morning nap is necessary on the car ride to school.
For many students like Aiden and Audra Rappold, a summer of staying up late and sleeping in means a rough wake-up call for the first few days of school as they adjust.
River Club’s Bethany Lynch said her son, Samuel, who will be an eighth grader at Braden River Middle School, is naturally a night owl, and his habit of staying awake at night only gets worse during the summer.
He will stay up until 3 a.m. and sleep in until most of his day is gone.
Lynch said her son realized he was missing out on most of the day while the rest of the world was awake, so he started setting an alarm for noon or 1 p.m. to spend part of his day with those who haven’t become nocturnal.
But as school approaches, the transition from being awake during the night to during the day isn’t easy.
Samuel Lynch will set his alarm earlier as the days of summer begin to dwindle and the first day of school approaches.
He needs at least four alarms to get himself up by 8 a.m. Usually, by the third alarm, he’s awake and getting ready, but there’s another alarm just in case.
Over the summer, Lilly Lynch, Samuel Lynch’s sister who will be a junior at Lakewood Ranch High School, witnessed his wake-up routine. It didn’t always go well.
“Because we hear all these alarms, we were like, ‘What is happening?’” Bethany Lynch said. “(Lilly) was like: ‘Oh, that’s so annoying. Turn it off.’”
As difficult as waking up in the morning for school can be for her son, Lynch said the first day of school isn’t as much of an issue because Samuel is excited to go back to school.
The problem comes in the days after when he experiences what Lynch calls the “first-day hangover.”
“That second and third day, it’s harder to get up in the morning but easier to get to sleep at night because they’re tired,” Lynch said. “They’ve actually had to engage with people, or they’ve had to use their brain in a different way than they had over the summer.”
Lynch has to make sure her son actually is awake and getting ready for school because he sometimes will wake up, get dressed and go back to bed.
She’ll find that on some nights, he will wear the gym shorts and T-shirt he’s planning to wear to the school next to bed to have just a few more minutes of sleep in the morning.
Lakewood Ranch’s Karen and Richard Medford sometimes have to go to Plan B, or C, or D when it comes to getting their 5-year-old daughter, Mya, who will be a kindergartner at Robert E. Willis Elementary School, out of bed for school.
But the Medfords have a secret weapon if Mya won’t come out of her slumber.
“It’s a process, but when we exhaust all our efforts, we send in Benny, our 50-pound labradoodle hound,” Karen Medford said. “He licks her face, and he won’t stop until she gets up. He knows he has a job to do. And it’s so cute to watch it happen.”
Benny doesn’t come into the picture until the Medfords try whispering to Mya to get up, pulling the covers off and turning on the lights.
“Sometimes, nothing works,” Karen Medford said.
Fortunately for the Medfords, their 9-year-old daughter, Ava, is the “polar opposite.”
“She’s always excited to go to school, so she gets up and is ready,” Karen Medford said.
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