Summer in the Village program offers 'lemonade lessons' to local students 

From July 9-20, Elon is hosting 176 Alamance-Burlington School System students at Summer in the Village, a summer academic preparedness and enrichment program of Elon's It Takes a Village Project. 

The customers lined up in the sun on Thursday, stretching back from Lindner Hall into the Lambert Academic Village, waiting to hand over a few quarters for a cup of lemonade or limeade. 

And behind the tables at the lemonade stand, more than a dozen rising 5th graders stood ready to hand over a cold drink, and show off the economic knowledge they’ve learned during Elon’s Summer in the Village program.

Supported by Wells Fargo and The Oak Foundation, Summer in the Village is a mid-year program of Elon’s It Takes a Village Project that offers local students the opportunity to retain what they’ve learned at their schools and prepare them for a new academic year. The youngest of the 176 students participating this year will enter kindergarten this fall and the oldest will begin their final year in high school.

Among those fielding orders and taking money at the lemonade stand was Joshua Garcia, who attends Elon Elementary School. He and his fellow Villagers have been working since July 9 to learn the economic foundations of business, such as managing money, understanding interest rates and building business plans. Thursday morning’s event was the culmination of that work, and with the customers stretched out before the stand, Garcia was ready — making change and moving the patrons along to receive their cold drinks. 

Students in the class for rising first-graders taught by elementary school teachers Erica Johnson and Natasha King focused on reading, writing and math.
The effort netted $375 and was matched by an Elon staff member who supports the It Takes a Village Project and prefers to remain anonymous, with the $750 donated to Allied Churches of Alamance County, a local nonprofit that targets homelessness and hunger.

“I’ve really learned a lot about how to manage money and what it means to invest,” Garcia said. “But it’s really stressful because there are so many people out here.”

Different grade levels are tackling different topics during Summer in the Village, with Elon faculty teaming up with ABSS teachers to lead the lessons. Rising kindergarteners through fourth-graders have focused on reading, writing and math. Middle school students are honing their mathematical skills and high school students are learning the ins and outs of the college preparation and application process. 

Emma Marie Alston with Alamance-Burlington School System, right, talks with fifth-grade students during a Summer in the Village class. 
“This is really such a great opportunity to work with these students and provide them the opportunity to be ready for the next school year,” said Jean Rattigan-Rohr, executive director of community partnerships and director of the Center for Access and Success. “Everyone is really working so hard with these students. 

This year, the fifth-graders explored economics and banking through a curriculum based on the book, “Danny Dollar, Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade.” Brandon Sheridan, assistant professor of economics, said he learned about the book and the accompanying curriculum from a peer at Northern Kentucky University, with the idea of using it in Summer in the Village before pitching the concept to ABSS elementary schools this fall. 

“It works on reading, writing and how to develop your own business plan,” Sheridan said. “They’ve been learning about concepts such as interest, diversification, savings, stocks and bonds, while also learning how to count and manage money. With the lemonade stand, there has also been the challenge of marketing and advertising.”

Among the marketing efforts was a sandwich board worn by Yeison Aguilar that advertised the sale and the prices. A rising fifth-grader at Elon Elementary, Aguilar has been participating in the It Takes a Village Project since he was in the second grade. During the school year, he and other students in the Village project regularly meet with Elon students, faculty and staff for tutoring and mentoring sessions that incorporate their parents, too. 

Aguilar said he’s been most impressed by learning about different currencies around the world, including those from Tanzania and Honduras, and how currency conversion rates work. He ran through how interest rates work, and how a savings bond would generate money over time. “It’s been great learning so much about money, and money from around the world,” Aguilar said.

For the lemonade stand, the students were tasked with determining what their costs would be, and then using that information to set the prices, which included an “early bird special.” 

“I’ve been impressed by how quickly they’ve absorbed the concepts,” Sheridan said, who worked with Emma Marie Alston, administrator of pre-K programs for ABSS and an Elon alumna, on the class. 

One of those concepts to learn is how to be adaptable as entrepreneurs. The compostable cups chosen to serve the lemonade had stacked along the main table with the drinks, and the hot sun beating down on them caused them to begin to melt, leading to a scramble to find new cups to meet the demand for cold drinks. 

“I told them things like this happen in business,” Sheridan said.