Some would say Del’s has the market cornered when it comes to warm-weather refreshment in the Ocean State.
But don’t try selling that information to Margaret “Peggy” Lessa, a kindergarten teacher at Johnston’s Early Learning Center who doubles as the popular proprietor of Lessa’s Lemonade Land.
Lessa’s Lemonade provides an educational experience for the youngsters, serving as a fun-filled end of the year project for students and their families. In addition to lemonade, it serves a limited menu that includes hot dogs – a welcome sight for hungry customers.
“It is a hands-on endeavor which allows children to create, build and go through the steps of opening up a business,” Lessa said. “Through the experience of Lessa’s Lemonade Land, the children are involved in many educational activities that involve reading, writing, math and technology research. It ties into all curriculum areas, and children who are artistic get a chance to display their drawing skills.”
Last Friday marked the 30th anniversary of Lessa’s Lemonade Land. Approximately 90 people were on hand for the occasion, including Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo. Attendees enjoyed talking with parents and watching students take customers’ orders at a several different locations inside the ECC classroom.
Adriel Cabrera-Noriega manned a booth where people could get freshly squeezed lemonade, while Isabella Plaisted had a special customer – her mother, Lisa Reyes.
There’s yet another interesting aspect of Lessa’s Lemonade.
“The children fill out job applications,” Lessa said. “They work with their parents to create a resume, design signs, write job descriptions, price lists and even menus. They also go on a job interview, and then they are hired for a certain position at the restaurant.”
She continued: “The children practice their job for about one week, and then we invite the parents to come and sit and enjoy their child waiting on them or preparing their food and drinks.”
Lessa said the experience imparts valuable lessons to the young students – and she has seen its long-term payoff.
“It introduces them to the reality of what they will do upon graduation and what their parents do every day,” she said. “I feel so passionately about this project because it is one the students will never forget. Students to this day will see me, write me letters or contact me on social media about the lemonade stand and how they remember it and the importance it had on their educational experience.”