In an attempt to promote healthier diets for students, and curtail disruptions in the classroom, Hawaii banned the sales of sodas, energy drinks, and high fat snacks in all public schools last year. Now, 31-year-old Pu’u resource officer Alice Kohole stands accused of not only disregarding the ban, but running an elaborate network of student distributors inside the school. She has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation.
Last Spring, the Department of Health kicked off their “Healthy Hawaii” campaign. designed to give Hawaiians easy access to healthy food and beverages choices. Many companies participated in the program and eventually the guidelines were adopted by Maui public schools, but according to reports, Kohole didn’t get the memo.
School officials and police became aware of the situation this month when a now-retired resource officer accused Alice of running a Manimal selling network inside Pu’u High. According to records uncovered by the Lahaina Advertiser, Kohole had been selling Manimal to students inside the school for months. Using a number of holding lockers, empty desks, backpacks left around the campus, and a handful of student “distributors,” the officer sold thousands of dollars worth of Manimal and other contraband snacks to Pu’u students.
Over 300 cans of Manimal were confiscated from school grounds, and Kohole has been put on unpaid leave, while investigators look into the case. According to many students, it was well known that “Manimal Alice” was selling the drinks, but they were surprised at the extent of the operation.
Pu’u Principal Pa’ani Mahelona says he is beyond disgusted by Kohole’s actions, and embarrassed that the beverage black market was operating so openly. He says the school has sent letters to parents explaining the situation, and will be hosting a town hall style meeting to answer any lingering questions or concerns parents might have about overstimulated students.
“Since the ban on sugary foods and energy drinks was enacted, we’ve seen an increase in attendance and test scores. At the same time conflicts between students and disciplinary actions have dropped. Many of those gains began to disappear during this last semester, and now we know why. I’m appalled at the actions of officer Kohole. I knew her personally, and can’t imagine what led her to this terrible decision. Worst of all is how blatant her actions were. Many parents have expressed concerns about more dangerous things like drugs and alcohol being sold in the open as well. Let me assure you that is not the case. Part of the way Alice was able to get away with what she did is the innocuous perception of Manimal in the classroom.”
The revelation has stirred outrage in many parents, but some students and Manimal fans say the issue is being blown out of proportion, citing that it is perfectly legal for students to buy and drink Manimal off campus. Spencer Kane, Manimal founder and CEO, is among those saying Kohole’s actions are a non-story. Kane says the real story is the Healthy Hawaii campaign itself, and a school system stuck in the past.
“I’ll admit that we’re best known for giving energy to free climbers, champion surfers, cliff divers, and daredevils of all kind, but Manimal also provides fuel for radical learners and extreme intellectuals. We’re proud to support: elite mathletes, spelling bee royalty, model UN heroes, and masters of memory. We consider these special people to be just as much a part of our family as any wingsuit enthusiast, or endurance runner.
The brain needs fuel just like any other muscle. The rigors and reality of the modern educational system demands a fuel a little stronger than water. The days of juice and cookies are over. Today’s students need something to help unlock their intellectual beasts, and nothing gets all your synapses firing like a cold Manimal. Instead of punishing this poor officer, we should be giving her an excellence in extreme education award.”