From the Desk of Jay Rainey – November 11, 2022

Late Wednesday afternoon, as I prepared to leave work and found myself peering into the near total darkness that had suddenly enveloped the MICDS campus behind Olson Hall, I was a little unsure how I felt about the situation. I decided I should phone a friend—well, over a thousand friends, actually. In an email addressed to all of our Middle and Upper School students as well as our faculty and staff, I wrote, “I am curious to know what you think about the recent shift from daylight saving time to standard time,” and I gave them a link to a brief survey to share their opinions. They had a lot to say.

Among those most firmly opposed to the return to standard time, Nikhil in eighth grade said, “I like going on bike rides and hanging out with my friends when I get home after sports and finish my homework, and now I can’t do that.” Added Ella, a junior, “It’s pretty depressing and weird when the sun starts to set and you’re literally still at school.” (Mr. Woessner in our Technology Department agreed. “Oh I LOVE sunset at 4:00 p.m. said no one ever.”) For Grace in ninth grade, the time shift has stirred up trouble at home. “My pets don’t realize that we fell back, and they still wake me up an hour early begging for food.” Almir in seventh grade noted that by early evening, “it just feels like I should be asleep when I really don’t have to be,” and Mr. George in the Upper School said, “I love my students and fellow colleagues, but I’d rather drive to work in the dark, and see my family and friends in the light.” Ms. Check, another Upper School teacher, lamented that “my sleep patterns are off, I’m hungry at weird times, and my cat suddenly demands food at all hours of the night.” (She and Grace should compare notes.) Said Mr. Roberts in the Middle School, “The redistribution of the light really affects my emotions, physical well being, and psyche every time. My brain, body, and spirit always take a few weeks before I feel ‘normal’ again.” Perhaps Caroline in sixth grade conveyed the feelings of the “anti standard time” constituency best: “HATE HATE DOUBLE HATE.”

On the other side of the argument, however, are Rams like Safi, a junior, who said, “I enjoy watching the sunset at earlier times, and it’s refreshing to see the sun fully up when I leave for school.” Carter in sixth grade appreciated that “it gave me more time to sleep last weekend,” and Gigi in ninth grade said, “I like being able to wake up with light in my room. It’s easier to get up in the morning.” Julian in eighth grade quipped, “Less time snoring in bed, more time scoring in class,” and Saige, also in eighth grade, said, “I really like the darkness. It makes me feel calm. Darkness falling earlier in the day helps me transition from summer into fall and winter, which are my favorite times of year.” Priyashi in seventh grade wrote, “I love nighttime and love seeing the moon in front of my car’s windshield when driving back home. It’s really fun to see that it gets dark so suddenly.” Said a grateful Ms. Skaggs in our Lower School, “I don’t have to drive to work in the dark!” Dr. Nardolillo, our JK-12 Arts Department Chair, agreed with her. “I love rising with the sun and arriving in the morning light instead of heading to work when it’s still dark.”

Although I selected all of the foregoing responses at random from the hundreds that I received, it is no surprise that so many of the “pro standard time” comments came from Middle School students. Points of view on this subject vary widely across the board, but if there is any pattern to be discerned in the data, it is that, roughly speaking, affection for the return to standard time is correlated inversely with age. With an average response of 3.35 on a five-point scale, our Middle School Rams are more likely to appreciate the time change, whereas our teachers and staff, with an average response of 2.40, are more likely to be bothered by it. The ultimate takeaway, though, is that perspectives vary by individual. A full 20% of respondents to my survey could not even decide how they feel. “I think it is a little odd and fun at the same time,” wrote Jules in fifth grade. Observed Abhinav in tenth grade, “It’s honestly just become a norm for me, and I think in the grander scheme of things, it’s quite balancing.”

Whatever you think about the return to standard time, I hope that you have enjoyed the week we are now concluding. We continue to move through a school year filled with opportunities to learn new things, make new friends, and grow into our shared future together. As if cued by last weekend’s time change, the weekend that awaits us has cold weather in store. So be it! Winter is coming, but not in the way that House Stark bleakly bodes. Learning, friendship, growth, and community are as available to us next week as last week, as available three months ahead as three months ago. Our common project is evergreen through our seasons, and it is a joy to be engaged in it with you.

Always reason, always compassion, always courage. Happy Veterans Day, and best wishes to your families for a reflective and restful weekend.

Jay Rainey
Head of School