An elementary school in Duncan has taken bold steps to shut down sugar by discouraging all liquids except for water on the premises.

Alexander Elementary School has become water-only this year, meaning students and staff are being asked to leave their pop, juice boxes and energy drinks at home.

The school implemented the new policy following the success of a school challenge last spring that saw students drink 2,000 litres of water in just two months.

“Water will be served with lunch, at recess and snacks, and kids are encouraged to bring water only to school as well,” said Sarah Byrne, co-chair of the school’s Parent Advisory Council.

While many schools across Vancouver Island encourage students to choose water over sugary drinks, Alexander Elementary is the first to take it to a new level.

There are 270 students who attend the school and many come from low-income households. As a result, it provides breakfast, lunch and snacks for more than 200 children every day.

Staff say there aren’t punishments if some juice makes its way in a child’s lunch, because the water-only rule is meant to be a guideline encouraging healthy choices.

“Our goal is to just drink more water, reduce the amount of sugar intake in a day,” said principal Dani Morrow. “The juice box in the lunch kit isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t happen very often and when it is, it’s not about a ban, it’s about encouraging and celebrating the consumption of water.”

To encourage the new initiative, the PAC gave students free reusable bottles on Monday – and it already seems to be having a positive effect.

“Now students are even reminding me, Mrs. Benstead, your water is on your desk. Take a drink,” said Grade 1 teacher Cathy Benstead.

While the water-only move is just a trial for the school, staff hope it’ll make a lasting impact on the lives of all students.