Gum maker gives grant to suspended student

/ Source: The Associated Press

A gum maker has come up with a snappy response to the sticky issue of a sixth-grader suspended for sharing its caffeinated product in school.

GumRunners LLC of Hackensack, N.J., which makes Jolt gum, created a scholarship program and awarded the first one to Courtney Rupert, a 12-year-old who was suspended for three days last month.

Stimulants are prohibited in the Burrell School District, about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, and possessing them is grounds for disciplinary action.

“Basically we’re going to try to reverse the karma of the universe. She got a bad deal. We decided to give her a good deal,” company co-founder Kevin Gass said Friday at a news conference to announce the “Chew More Do More” scholarships.

Of the 10 $1,000 scholarships to be awarded annually, Gass said one will be named for Courtney and will go to “someone unfairly victimized.” The others are for high achievers. A board of advisers will determine the winners, he said.

Courtney, who was at the announcement with her mother, Carrie Ramsey, said she cried when she was suspended. She said she’s a good student who has never been in trouble before.

She said she bought the Jolt gum because it was on sale and shared it with another student on May 22. Her mother said she was unsure how school officials came to learn of it.

“They sell pop, so I wouldn’t have thought chewing gum would be any different,” Ramsey said.

The district superintendent did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.