Norton High School Coffee Policy Should be Revised

Letter sent in from Norton High School student Neeve MacGregor as a journalism assignment.

Dear Kelly,

I am writing to you about a rule that I see a need for change in. I decided to publish this letter in the patch to attempt to gain support from readers in order to try and change this rule at the . Out of all the rules in Norton High School, I personally find the most frustrating to be that we are not allowed to bring coffee into school in the mornings. Although coffee can be messy, I have noticed that students trying to hide coffee from teachers become clumsier and more accident prone with their coffee than they would be if they were allowed to simply place it on their desks. Coffee spills can easily be cleaned with water but to prevent spills in general a new school rule could be put in place to prevent spills in general. Any student who spilled a coffee or made any mess could receive a detention. This would ensure that students cleaned up after themselves and would cut down on messes without getting rid of coffee all together.

In my experience from working at , I have seen what large amounts of money kids spend on coffee. To then tell these kids they must throw away the coffee they just bought and barely got to drink is absurd. Students, even those who work regularly, do not have disposable income so although spending $2.56 on a coffee may not seem like a big deal, it is. Some teachers allow students to stand in the lobby and finish their coffee before class as long as they are not late. Drinking large quantities of coffee in three minutes or less can literally make students, or anyone in general, sick to their stomach. I speak from experience. Coffee is also known to cause muscle cramps if drank quickly. This is very unhealthy. Although allowing us to drink in the lobby may save us money, it does not save our stomachs.

The seemingly simple solution to this problem would be to not bring or sneak coffee into school.  This rule would work if it was enforced school-wide. If we did not see nearly every teacher sipping their coffee first period we might be more motivated and inclined to not bring ours into the school. Teachers do not want to give up this rule and neither do we. The school must either allow everyone to drink coffee or ban it to all people within the high school building. The chugging, wasting of money, and inequality needs to stop.


Neeve MacGregor

Student of Norton High School

Bill Gouveia September 28, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Neeve - Good for you! I don't know if you have brought this idea up to the administration and/or the school committee yet, but that might be a good place to start. I'm not sure I agree with you, but I think you raise some valid points. Always good to see young people speaking out and doing something rather than just throwing up their hands
Andy Heller September 28, 2011 at 07:46 PM
I'm not going to debate whether high school kids should be drinking coffee in the first place, but instead of banning it, why not SELL it to students in the cafeteria and allow you to drink it at your desk. $2.56 per cup from an outside coffee shop is expensive, so if the school invests in a quality restaurant-style machine and charges say...$1.25 per cup, students will save some money, the proceeds could be used to fund an extracurricular activity and everyone will benefit. Or as school systems tend to do, they'll ban it and then raid the school with coffee sniffing dogs and place violators under arrest.
Sean Brodeur September 29, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Great letter Neeve! I wouldn't have survived High School without my coffee in the morning. I am actually surprised to hear this because I recall so many students drinking coffee when I was a High Schooler. Students should have the option to enjoy coffee during breaks and at lunch if they like. I know I always performed better on my exams and projects when I had my coffee. "America Runs on Dunkins" may be the latest slogan from New England's coffee giant, but it is actually true... Americans love their coffee, and it is an essential part of the American routine. I think you should take Bill's advice and take this to the school committee. I am sure your class would back you up.
Buzz kill September 29, 2011 at 11:05 AM
I want to start off by saying that your letter is wel written. Your facts are a but off though. Drinking coffee quickly does not cause stomach cramping. The statement you made about teachers do it makes you want to be able to has me a bit thrown...so if you see a teacher or lets just any grown up have a beer or glass of wine you feel you are entitled to it as well? Lets all hope you never see an episode of intervention or you might end up addicted to crack or meth. When you grow up you can enjoy grown up vices. Sorry kid but it's just not going to happen for you just yet.
Deniz September 29, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Neeve, I would like to second Bill's suggestion. I am also not sure I agree with you (yet), but I am pretty sure the school committee would welcome the opportunity to hear you present your case. Generally something like this would be the decision of the administration, but with a well presented and reasoned argument you never know who you might convince. In my 3 years of dealing with Dr. Ansay and Principal Dewar, I have found them both to be very reasonable people. Whether you get the rule changed or not, just the fact that you stood up to state your case is more important than you know. Too many times we grumble about the injustice of this or our unhappiness with that, but never actually try to change anything. Good for you! Good luck and I hope to hear more from you about this in the future. Deniz Savas Vice Chairperson Norton School Committee
Tina Gaynor September 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Very well written. I agree if the students are able to have coffee visible than you should as well. SO many people require caffeine in the morning. Time management may help a little here....if you got up earlier you could get your coffee and drink it BEFORE school or better yet-save money and make it at home. At the college I work at beverages are not allowed in the classrooms-so you will have the same situation when you go off to college.
Tina Gaynor September 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Please read as-if TEACHERS are allowed....I said students by mistake in the first line....
Trot Nixon September 29, 2011 at 01:39 PM
You're very brave in writting this...however I feel like your efforts will be in vain, considering chocolate milk is banned in schools now, I would be VERY surprised if they bend for coffee. When I went to NHS (not to long ago) they banned water and gatorade in the classroom, I mean water and gatorade c'mon. Luckily we had sensible teachers who saw how dumb that rule was and let us drink it anyways. My feeling is if your an 18 year old senior and you can sign up for the army, you should be allowed to drink coffee
Beth McManus September 29, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Neeve, May I first say "Bravo!" I love to see students stand up for their beliefs and voice their concerns. You are not just someone that sits there and complains. You do something about it. That is why I ran for School Committee I was under the impression that no drinks were allowed into the classrooms not just coffee. I agree with Deniz. bring this to the proper authority. Your first step would be to speak with Mr. Dewar and voice your concern. You have nothing to lose. Not sure where I stand on this...I have found there are always reasons for the rules that are made. You should be proud of yourself. Nice job & well written. Keep fighting for what you believe in! Maybe we will see you someday in the political arena :) Beth McManus Norton School Committee Chair
Holly DeLano September 29, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Nice to see my neighbor expressing herself in a thoughtful, intelligent way:) Good luck, Neeve!! I remember a couple of years ago when my son was needing hydration during the day having to write a note so he could keep his WATER with him!! THEN having to get a doctors note, ridiculous!! While I don't think there necessarily needs to be an equal rule kids/teachers, I think that you have a right, certainly, to ask for some consideration. I've always told my kids it never hurts to ask:))))
Brittany Anteski September 29, 2011 at 04:37 PM
First off, if you can't spell well right don't put and imput. Neeve isn't talking about illegal drugs like meth. It's coffee. Teachers drink it why can't we? No one wants to wake up at 5 am when most of us are up until 2 am doing homework just for coffee. It's harmless, coffee isn't alcohol. Just because we are not the " bad ass" teacher who can bend the rules doesn't mean we should suck it up and get over it. I understand the "mess" is a hassel, but that's the janitors job. We arent smoking crack in the bathroom, we are just drinking coffee to wake us up a little bit because we have to be to school at the butt crack of dawn. -Brittany Anteski
Andy Heller September 29, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Everyone knows there's an easy path from coffee to cocaine......Seriously, why not just mandate that coffee must be in a "commuter mug" device with a latched lid? Maybe have cupholders installed into the desks? Think of ways to do things, not ways to ban them.


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