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Students, parents clash over cappuccino in Chambersburg junior high school

April 10, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A brewing controversy over a cappuccino machine at Faust Junior High School did not quite boil over during Wednesday's Chambersburg School Board meeting with two students and at least one parent airing their opposing views on sales of the caffeinated beverage.

This tempest in a teapot got stirred up after some parents complained about the availability of cappuccino in a vending machine in the school's cafeteria and sales were suspended, Superintendent Joseph Padasak told the board. He then introduced Faust ninth-grade Class President Mallory Cortis and Secretary Erica Hildabridle, who took the pro-caffeine side of the debate.

"Teachers don't think it's an issue," Cortis said, adding that no caffeine-related disruptions have occurred at the school. Additionally, parents may contact the food service staff to keep their children from being able to buy cappuccino, she said.

Hildabridle said a survey of King Street Elementary School's largely Hispanic population showed that 90 percent of its students drink coffee or cappuccino at home.

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The students said about 50 cups of cappuccino and hot chocolate are being purchased each day in a school with 1,376 students. The sugar content is not much different than soda, which is not available at school, or Gatorade, which is, they said.

The caffeine in cappuccino is also about half that of coffee and similar to hot chocolate, according to Cortis and Hildabridle. Nevertheless, they offered compromises, including limiting sales to 8-ounce cups and making it available only to ninth-grade students.

"They did a good job. I was proud of them, but I still have the same feelings," said Georgia Blivens of Newburg, Pa. She was waiting for the privilege of the floor to voice her opinion.

"Giving students an opportunity to become over-stimulated on caffeine seems potentially counterproductive," Blivens' statement read. "There are many parents that do not allow their children to consume high caffeine products and feel it should be inappropriate in the schools."

"Why are we even dealing with this issue?" board member Norman Blowers asked, noting that only about 3 percent of the students and staff are buying the drink.

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