There is a change among the Collegiate community. A change so large that it couldn’t go untalked about. This change comes in the form of healthier drinks at lunch. Yes, I am talking about the new drink machines, and in this instance, change seems to be both good and bad.
The new drink machines in McFall Hall were implemented to be a healthier substitute for the familiar looking Coke machines, which contained sugar-packed drinks such as Hi-C, Powerade, and Minute Maid. These new machines bring a healthier alternative; artificially flavored water that uses a much smaller amount of sugar. The water comes in four flavors: Strawberry Kiwi, Lemon Lime, Watermelon, and Tropical Mango. While our student body is usually adaptive to change (parking, class time, bells, no bells, scheduling changes, even more scheduling changes with the flipping of flex days, a new head along with plenty of new teachers), the students have never seemed to react this negatively. I asked an array of different students, and unfortunately the collective opinion of these new machines leaned farther towards negative than positive.
Here’s what Frederick Davis (‘17) had to say, “I don’t really like them, compared to last year. I don’t like how they taste. I like the Powerade a lot better than the other ones.” Larus Reed (‘16) said, “They are not that good. Decent at best. There’s no Powerade, there’s not even water, really.” “I don’t like them. The water doesn’t taste good, too many lemons, and I miss the Powerade and the drinks we had before” was Nicky DeMarco’s (‘16) input on the pressing matter. Seeing a pattern here? Powerade. These three students were all particularly bereaved at the fact that the familiar sports drink was no longer an option, which might have given them a biased opinion about the new and healthier drinks. The goal of getting rid of the powerhouse appropriately named Powerade, however, was to get rid of needless sugar. A 20 oz. Powerade actually has about seven teaspoons of sugar packed inside of it, and if students are getting multiple cups in the lunchroom, they’re getting multiple servings of an unnecessary and almost scary amount of sugar. Powerade: drink it up for those electrolytes and diabetes.
If you take the old drinks, and specifically Powerade, out of the picture, students still seemed to react negatively. When asked on the matter, Lauren Byrd (‘16) simply said, “They taste really bad.” Mythili Vigneshwar (‘16) reacted with a shockingly similar statement: “I don’t like them.”
Finally, in what seemed like a sea of overflowing negative feedback, one that may or may not have consisted of nothing but deep warm blue Powerade, I had my first positive response from Reilly Gallagher (‘18), “I like them. They taste good.” Surprisingly, when I asked anyone from the classes of 2018 and 2019 what they thought of the new machines, I didn’t have a single negative response. I was skeptical at first, believing maybe they were just trying to be polite due to previous feedback, but all of their responses were real and genuine. Simple, but genuine. “They’re good, I mean they don’t taste bad, so I have no problem with them” said Stuart Berling (‘19). Lauren Byrd, a senior who already had stated she was not fond of the new drinks, piped in with an annoyed, “Just be honest,” but Berling stood by his statement firmly. Nathan West (‘19) agreed with Berling, saying, “I think they’re okay, they’re cool. I like that they’re healthier.” Interestingly, the sophomores and freshmen all reacted positively, while all but two seniors and all of the juniors that were asked reacted negatively. This could be a good thing, seeing that the upperclassmen will be out of here quicker, leaving the new machines to the more content underclassmen.
One of the main concerns between faculty and students alike was the artificial sweetening. Artificial sweeteners are a topic of controversy, because some believe them to be healthier for you, while others do not. “I am a little bit wary of the fact that they’re very sweet and don’t have any sugar, so it makes me wonder what they’re sweetened with” said Brad Cooke, a history teacher. Stewart Williamson, a physics teacher, was also worried about the sweeteners, “I’m not sure that false sweeteners are the best things for humans to consume.” What really caught my attention, however, was Spencer Rider’s (‘17) take on the situation. “Apparently, they contain a non-digestible sugar substitute. A lot of zero-sugar drinks contain a sugar substitute, like Stevia or Splenda. These contain one, but it’s not one you can digest.” Spencer said we should try to stick to water and milk, and Charlie Tolleson (‘16) pitched in, agreeing with Spencer, “Well, I don’t really plan on trying the new drinks, but the water’s always empty every day. And we need better milk so, I usually have to get water after lunch from a water fountain. It’s always a disappointment. I’m disappointed.”
With these thoughts in mind, I went to ask Kathy Wrenn, the School Wellness Coordinator, and a big supporter and one who helped bring this change to the lunchroom, about the school’s current situation. Wrenn said that of course Collegiate had considered the possibility of only having milk and water out for students, but decided that this wasn’t the right time to try for that push. She also assured me that the sugar substitute, sucralose, was in fact safe to consume, “We’ve actually been looking at this for a long time. We shouldn’t be handing sugar packed drinks out to our students, it isn’t a healthy lifestyle. Our dietician, Lisa Raum, has made sure that sucralose was in fact the best and healthiest substitute we could use.” With all the previous feedback I had received, I informed her that there were both positive and negative responses among mainly the students. When asked how she thought students would be affected by the change, Wrenn said, “I really hope this small change guides you guys, and helps you make healthier choices farther on in your life. I hope this is a little push that moves you in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle.”
Regardless of opinions, the school’s future is certainly looking healthier.
Photos by Matthew Colletti.