Lawrence High School senior Laura Vermillion starts class at 7:15 a.m. each day, and sometimes she would like to drink some juice in class.
That's what Vermillion did last year when she started classes an hour early through the school's "zero hour." But a new LHS policy banning beverages from the classroom has forced Vermillion to change her breakfast plans.
"Students are not to bring food or drink into a classroom without teacher permission zero hour," the policy says. "Food and drink will not be permitted in the classroom at any other time, except for special class activities with teacher approval. No food or drinks will be allowed in the halls during the school day."
LHS Principal Brad Tate said the policy was implemented partly to prevent students from drinking alcohol at school.
"We've had problems with some kids bringing alcohol in Cokes," Tate said.
Because some students might not have had time to eat breakfast, the policy allows food and drink during zero hour at the teacher's discretion. But in general, Tate said, "I don't think the classroom is an appropriate environment to have kids sitting around eating and drinking."
Vermillion said she doesn't see any problem with having beverages in the classroom.
"If you compare the number of people who take liquids into the classroom to the amount of spills, I don't think it's as big a deal as they think it is," she said.
LHS senior Brant Brown said the policy is hurting his business. Brown works at the Lion's Den, the student-run snack shop in the LHS cafeteria.
"We aren't selling the pop that we normally would sell because a lot of students like to buy something and take it back to class," Brown said. "I don't like the policy personally, and I don't like it as far as the Den is concerned."
One parent who wished not to be identified said she was concerned about how the policy would affect students sensitive to the heat. Most LHS classrooms have no air conditioning.
Tate said that during last week's hot weather, some teachers took whole classes of students to get drinks at a water fountain. He said teachers also excuse individual students to get drinks if they need them.
LHS teacher Carolyn Graham said she has never permitted drinks in her class in the 23 years she has taught at the school.
"If a student is thirsty, he certainly can go out in the hall and get a drink. It's just that simple," Graham said. "This is not something peculiar or unique to me. There are teachers who have always said there will be no food or drink in the classroom."