'Lemonade Day' teaches lessons, makes sweet profit

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., May. 5, 2011
Town Council Chair Rich Kehoe at a lemonade stand run by 6-year-old Elisha Muzin Robar, a student at Hockanum Elementary School. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Town Council Chair Rich Kehoe at a lemonade stand run by 6-year-old Elisha Muzin Robar, a student at Hockanum Elementary School. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Ashley Seward, an eighth-grader at East Hartford Middle School, was handing out lemonade drinks and taking money as fast as she could. Business was good at “Annabelle's Stand,'' which Seward named after a childhood friend. For the second year in a row, Seward has been a participant in 'Lemonade Day,'' a nationwide program that teaches entrepreneurial skills to youth.

“Lemonade Day,'' on May 1, gave youngsters from elementary school through high school hands-on experience with running their own businesses. Students are required to learn advertising and marketing, planning and budgeting in order to make their business a success. They must also create their own product, their own version of ice cold lemonade.

“They learn where to place their business to get the best foot traffic, they learn how to market their product to get customers,'' said Jeff Crandall, a spokesman for Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), which sponsored the event. CCAT is a non-profit corporation that fosters economic development through a range of local and regional programs. East Hartford Childplan, Inc., and Maffe Foundation were co-sponsors.

Students brought their products into CCAT the day before, where judges awarded prizes for best-testing, best marketing and other categories. Seward, who won the award for the most successful stand last year, won best-testing for her strawberry lemonade this year. Seward named her stand after her friend, who died of cancer at age 8. Proceeds from the stand will be donated to Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Each stand is expected to give some portion to charity or a community organization.

“It’s been fun making the lemonade,'' Seward said. “We have all different flavors.”

A yellow school bus carrying the judges and local leaders made the rounds to a half-dozen lemonade stands across town. Mayor Marcia Leclerc, state Rep. Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford), Town Council Chair Rich Kehoe, and Board of Education Chair Mary Alice Dwyer Hughes were among those who made the trip.

“It's been very impressive – all the work and commitment to the project that the kids have shown,'' Leclerc said.

Several stands decided to diversify their product line by selling other items. Eric and Evan Card, 10-year-old twin brothers, also sold frozen pudding pops at their stand, as well coconut flavored lemonade. “We are going to pay our mom back and save to by an Xbox,'' Evan said.

Anthony Velez went into business with his friends Carl Ngobeni, 12, and Davin Shields, 5. They also sold homemade cupcakes at their lemonade stand. “I'm going to give 10 percent to charity, and the rest to pay my employees, '' Velez said.

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