Later start times in Watertown schools will involve some game-planning

WHS athletic director Michael Lahiff keeping both eyes on the clock

Michael Lahiff Watertown High athletic director

Raider Times photo / Carolina Pesqueira

Michael Lahiff Watertown High athletic director

Carolina Pesqueira, Raider Times staff

    Michael Lahiff, Watertown High’s athletic director, is concerned about the impact the later start time will have on the Watertown High athletic programs next year. The current plan is for Watertown High School to move its start-finish time up 35 minutes next fall, from 7:55 a.m./2:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m./3:05 p.m.

    Mr. Lahiff has been an athletic director for 23 years, 13 years in Stoneham High and 10 ongoing years in WHS. When asked how much the time change would affect the athletic program he highlighted several issues.

    Overall, he supports the goal of the plan. His main concern is the faculty and department meetings done after school, three Wednesdays out of the four in a month, making practice even later on those days. Coaches have to go to the meetings  before going to practice. The first two Wednesday meetings take an hour, and on the third Wednesday it’s two hours.

    Other schools in the Middlesex League already have to wait for Watertown to be out, as it starts school later than most. If school would start later in WHS, it would be even farther ahead of other school systems.

    “The good thing that everyone [in the Middlesex League] is in this together, it will be something everybody will change” said Mr. Lahiff.

    Another problem is Watertown does not have multiple fields.

    “We don’t have flexibility on facilities,” he said.

   Most schools have a field on campus, while Watertown fields are not close to the school, with one a mile away.

    In addition, if practice starts at 5 p.m. and sundown is at 6:30 p.m., then the school and town would need to put more lights on the fields.

    Traffic will be worse for buses getting to other schools for games and in the dark. Parents would be also be out late picking up their children and it can mess with their schedules.

    Mr. Lahiff complimented the committee and how satisfied he was with the many different people present. The met for for over a year trying to deal with the issue. He was very pleased with the chair of the committee, Dr. Kimo Carter, principal of Watertown Middle School.

    “Mr. Carter did great,” he said.

    The members tried to deal with every issue that would come up.

    “I mean everybody will be impacted, we have to really evaluate this,” said Mr. Lahiff.

    Other agencies in town will be affected. He mentioned the Boys and Girls Club and its after-school program.

    “What about the students that have to pick up the kids at the elementary school? Elementary starts early and they have to pick up those kids,” he said.

     When asked if he thought the change would have a positive or negative impact on students, he answered that the whole purpose of it is to help high school students learn better, to put them in a better situation, to get them prepared to do well in school.

     “I think it is a great goal,” he said.

–Nov. 30, 2017–