Mrs. Peggy Lessa, a kindergarten teacher at the Early Childhood Center, has turned her Golden Apple into lemonade.
Last September, Lessa was awarded the highly prestigious Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching and for believing in the true spirit of teaching by making her classroom a creative and safe place to learn.
Every year for the past 19 years, Mrs. Lessa opens her now famous Lessa’s Lemonade Stand. The end-of-the-year project requires much work from the young kindergarteners who participate. Students fill out job applications, write resumes and go on job interviews to become a member of the stand’s staff. The project assists children in discovering how to run a business and become a valuable employee.
Last Thursday, Lessa’s Lemonade stand opened for business once again, and kept a tradition alive by serving the families of students who filled the classroom. Students prepared and served lemonade for 25 cents, hot dogs for 50 cents, and chips and cookies for 10 cents each.
Students hustled taking and writing down orders, bringing the food to their assigned tables, and collecting money. The room was a flurry of activity as kids moved from one station to another.
“This is an annual tradition for Mrs. Lessa, she does a great jobs in terms of connecting the lemonade stand to the curriculum so the kids learn that,” said Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLillo, who enjoyed a cup of the student’s lemonade. “The kids learn writing, how to interact with adults, it’s just a great experience and a culminating experience for her year of instruction.”
ECC Principal Julie-ann Zarrella was thrilled with the stand and impressed by all of the hard work that went into the production.
“This is a special time of year when we celebrate the lemonade stand. Mrs. Lessa puts a lot of her own heart into what she does,” said Zarrella. “The kids think with their heart but also think with their heads, they’re a bright group of kids who have done phenomenally well, I’m truly going to miss that group next year.”
As part of her Golden Apple award, Lessa received a $250 contribution from Hasbro provided by the Kids in Need Foundation to help her fund her classroom needs. She put that money to good use, and used it to create this year’s stand.
The stand was managed by Joseph Marchesseault, with Brody Melise serving as assistant manager. Host staff included Anthony Macari and Aubrey Kleva. The cash register was operated by Leonardo Celani, and Giovanni Labbadia and Isaiah Encarcione were the stand’s bartenders.
Serving as cook was Nour Hassan, with a bus staff of Ava Gomes and Kevin Gorkin-Howard. The waiters for the day included Nina Salgado, Nayrah Salgado, Joshua Robbins, Brooke Poiera, Logan Poole, Nicolas Asan, Caylee Allen, Ava Fellela, Lyla Maine, and Juliana Vento.
Once finished, Lessa split all of the lemonade stand earning up equally for the students.
As she spoke with her students and their families about her experiences during the last year, Lessa’s words were as bittersweet as the lemonade her students made.
“At the beginning of the year when I spoke to most of you, I said this class was like having my own fraternity. Every day I came in to a majority of boys who were eager to go. That fraternity turned into a group of people that stole my heart,” said Lessa. “They are one of the best groups that I have ever worked with.”