When did school overtake the post office as the place a person is most likely to lose it? Over the past couple of years, crazed student gunmen have outnumbered AK-toting postal workers by a ratio of four to one. Is it the decay of standards in the mass entertainment media? The number of students using E-mail? The Internet? Certainly the proliferation of guns is a contributing factor. But it doesn’t explain the increase in the use of deadly weapons by kids in particular. Back when shoot-’em-ups were weekly events at the post office, the reason most commonly touted was that postal workers were stressed. So much mail–you can never deliver it all! Has school gotten more stressful? What’s different there?

Homework. Generally, kindergartners get a half hour’s worth every day, but a parent whose five-year-old attended Skinner said there was a lot more. When my son was in third grade, his five subjects added up to two hours a night. Chicago Public Schools require go minutes a night for seventh-graders, and, a parent of a seventh-grader at Edison says his son does homework until rindnight on a regular basis.

And the older they get, the bigger the load. One parent says that Evanston high school students get between four and six hours of homework each night. Northside Prep assistant principal Alan Mather says homework times “are a nebulous area.” He estimates that students in grades nine through eleven get between three and three and a half hours a night there, but adds, “It varies.” A parent of a Northside Prep ninth-grader says his son does four hours a night, seven days a week.

Here’s an unscientific look at an average high school student’s day:

6:30am Wake up

6:32-7:15 Eat, dress, gather belongings and homework, leave for school

7:35 Arrive school

7:46-2:45p.m. School day

2:45-3:05 Ride bus to extracurricular activity

3:05-5:00 Activity

Monday: Soccer practice

Tuesday: Volunteer work (high school requirement)

Wednesday: flute practice

Thursday: math tutor

Friday: soccer game

5:00-5:30 Ride bus from extracurricular activity to home.

5:30-6:15 Prioritize homework by subject preference, deadline

6:15-7:00 Dinner; quality time with family

7:00-11:30 Homework

11:30-11:40 Brush teeth, wash up, take a leak

11:40-11:50 Clean and load gun

11:50-midnight Downtime and/or say prayers

midnight Lights out