Say bye-bye buzz: Yo, teach! I can’t hear you over the snoring |

Say bye-bye buzz: Yo, teach! I can’t hear you over the snoring

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

When finished early next year, the new and improved Aspen High School will come with multiple amenities ? expanded classrooms, a new gym and a cushy, couch-filled student lounge.

However, the future of one AHS comfort ? a fully-stocked snack bar ? is on shaky ground as the Aspen School Board considers the effects that caffeinated and sugary beverages might have on students.

School board member Jon Seigle raised the topic of caffeine-related health problems two weeks ago during the board’s last regular meeting. Seigle, a local attorney who also professes to be “in the convenience-store business,” asked fellow board members whether sales of caffeinated drinks at AHS could be a violation of district health policies.

Seigle reported that the Los Angeles School District will soon decide if coffee and soda should be eliminated from the city’s many high schools ? a movement that is gradually gaining support across the country, Seigle said.

Aspen School District officials continued the caffeine discussion Monday night during the school board’s evening meeting. AHS Principal Kendall Evans reported that a meeting of school administrators earlier that day had determined the district should be wary of all caffeine- and sugar-loaded drinks.

“It seems like the most prudent course of action would be to take any sort of caffeine drink out of the schools,” Evans said.

Evans indicated that national studies of student caffeine intake were “pretty strong” in their negative views of coffee and soda sales in schools. Heidi Houston, chair of a District Accountability Committee group studying student health and wellness, agreed with Evans. Houston even passed around copies of an anti-soda study dubbed “Liquid Sugar.” The study cited problems with restlessness, nervousness and hyperactivity among students with diets high in caffeine, Houston read. And school nurses also warned of osteoporosis dangers growing girls will face later in life.

Houston suggested that her DAC committee could review various caffeine and sugar studies during its meeting later this week. However, Evans asked for a quick resolution to the caffeine debate. The AHS coffee bar and gymnasium concession stand are scheduled for completion later this month, the principal reported, and need guidelines for their drink menus.

Board member Fred Peirce recommended that the board take “the most restrictive approach” to limiting caffeine at AHS ? removing all soda or coffee machines from the school and perhaps barring the sale of both beverages at after-school athletic activities. At one point, board members discussed whether teachers would set a bad example for their students by bringing their own coffee cups to class.

District Superintendent Tom Farrell tentatively agreed with Peirce’s suggestions and said the board could encourage comment from students and the community to help reshape the plan.

“[We can] come up with the most conservative plan now and work our way up to a good, acceptable plan,” Farrell said.

The board decided not to take such drastic actions during Monday’s meeting. Instead, the group opted to study the caffeine issue more as they look into “the possibility of changing the [school] menu” in the future.

Evans jokingly warned that companies hoping to sponsor AHS events might not be happy with a total caffeine ban. The AHS Booster Club has just one portable concession stand, a small red cart covered in Coca-Cola promotions.

“Coke’s probably going to come get their little red wagon,” Evans joked.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is]

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