Student suspended for selling Pepsi at school takes business to sidewalk

An Alberta teenager who was suspended for selling pop from his locker says he is still selling soda, just not on school property where sales of the sugary drinks aren't allowed.

Keenan Shaw is continuing to sell pop — just not on school property

Keenan Shaw was suspended for two days by Winston Churchill High School for selling soft drinks to students. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

An Alberta teenager who was suspended for selling pop from his locker says he's still selling soda, just not on school property where sales of the sugary drinks aren't allowed.

Keenan Shaw says he is selling drinks on the sidewalk beside Winston Churchill High School in Lethbridge.

The 17-year-old student, who is in Grade 12, says he stores the pop in his locker. He says school officials so far don't seem to have a problem with.

"I can store it at school. I can bring it to school. I can drink it at school. I just can't sell it [at school.]"

Earlier this month, Shaw was suspended briefly after he was caught in the hallways selling soda to students. He had previously been warned to stop.

The school only sells diet soda, and Shaw was buying cases of regular pop in stores and then selling the cans to his classmates at a markup.

News of Shaw's suspension made international headlines and even got a mention on a U.S. late night talk show.

"It got me a lot more advertising," Shaw said about the effect the publicity had on his sales. "I feel like everyone knows about it now."

Suspension an overreaction, says mother

Lethbridge School District No. 51 superintendent Cheryl Gilmore said earlier this month that selling pop in the school "is not in keeping with the jurisdiction focus on health schools and healthy nutritional choices policy."

She also noted that schools "are not open door public places where anyone can bring and sell whatever they want."

Shaw's mother, Alyssa Shaw-Letourneau, said she felt the school overreacted by suspending her son. She said if parents don't want their kids drinking pop, they should give them a lunch rather than sending them to school with lunch money.

Shaw-Letourneau also said it was good for students to question authority and not to accept things blindly, and pointed out a vending machine at the school sells vitamin water that states on the label it's not suitable for children.

"Selling a couple of cans of pop — I would view it like running a lemonade stand," Shaw-Letourneau said. "Sometimes you do have to question things."

Anti-pop policy

Shaw said he doesn't believe the anti-pop policy discourages teens from drinking the stuff.

"I don't think they're doing anything by restricting the sale of pop besides losing money, because kids are just going to go other places for it. Whether it's to me, or 7-Eleven or Safeway, or any of the other various stores that are just a five minute walk away," Shaw said, noting his conscience is clean.

"When they're selling aspartame, and there's actually been numerous studies that prove it's worse for you, I don't feel any remorse for it."

Shaw said a few kids at school have even joked they might jump into the pop business too, but so far he doesn't have any competitors.

"I've told people go ahead, I don't care," he said, noting he could expand into other treats.

"There's definitely other things I could make money on besides pop."


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