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Mountain High students get a taste of entrepreneurship at lemonade market

KAYSVILLE — Juniors and seniors at Mountain High kicked off the school year with a lemonade market called Lemonade Town.

Eight teams, each with 15 students and three staff members, spent five days developing the products and branding for their stands before holding the market in the Mountain High commons area Tuesday morning.

Visitors, including community members and school staff, used fake money to purchase the products.

The commons area was teeming with activity, with groups busily preparing drinks like “Cactus Breeze,” a multi-flavored soda creation, and “Snow Cap,” a juice-free twist on horchata with ice cream, coconut, and whipped cream.

Stands had names like Beatle Juice (the band, not the cartoon), Lemon Scream, The Big Squeeze, and Rocky Juicers. A stand called Surf ‘n Sodas passed out their drinks from a portable cart with a counter made of a surfboard.

After the market, teams gave presentations describing their experiences at each stage of the project.

The groups’ performance at the market and their presentations were judged by local entrepreneurs.

Mountain High is Davis School District’s alternative high school, which draws students from all over the district, from North Salt Lake to Roy. Students are referred to Mountain when they fall behind in earning high school credit. Mountain High staff help them catch up so they can graduate.

Lemonade Town is part of a “quick start” program that the school holds the beginning of each year to help build familiarity among the new students, most of whom don’t know each other.

“They’re extremely anxious, nervous, they don’t have friends, they have low self-esteem, and they are scared to death to start school here because of the reputation of the school,” said Tomee Call, one of the two teachers who ran Lemonade Town this year. “So when we put them on a team, they immediately get camaraderie and friendships and a few teachers that they bond with … so now they start the school year off with buddies and teachers that they know.”

Students appreciate this opportunity to break the ice.

Shae Bunker, a senior, said the activity definitely helped her get to know her peers better before getting into the thick of school, but she described the experience as “intense.”

“It’s just like they just throw you in,” Bunker said, laughing. “It was just like ‘Here’s the first day of school. You’re making a lemonade stand.’”

Bunker worked with Hannah Davis, also a senior, to develop the drinks for the Lemon Scream stand. They went with classic, fresh-squeezed lemonade and limeade, made extra cold with dry ice.

“We wanted to keep it simple … really cold, really refreshing like lemonade’s supposed to be … not like crazy fancy,” Bunker said.

Davis said her favorite part was “seeing everybody’s creativity come to life.”

Students also say they’ve learned about business and cooperation.

“I did learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of a team,” said Braxton Jorgensen, a senior who helped run Rocky Juicers. “Also how to work with that and see what we can do to improve.”

Rocky Juicers, makers of the horchata ice cream creation, ultimately won the competition.

Teams made Lemonade Town “money” throughout their preparation for the market on tests and other assignments, but Rocky Juicers sold significantly more drinks at the market than any other teams.

Macie Garritson, a senior who helped run the Beatle Juice stand that produced Brazilian lemonades, said that their team had to re-brand their stand because it unintentionally violated school policy.

“I learned that my team and I can get through obstacles because it was way out of the blue when we were told we had to start all over again,” Garritson said. “We … picked ourselves up and started all over again — and it’s been really successful. People like our products.”

The school has been running quick starts for about a decade. School leadership and staff developed the program after visiting an alternative school in the San Diego area and brainstorming an “immersive” way to start the school year, Call said.

Lemonade Town has been done for three years, but there have been other quick start themes, like Shark Tank, Amazing Race, Crime Scene Investigation, mindfulness and career prep with mock job interviews.

Students who enter the school at different times of the year also participate in smaller quick starts throughout the year.

Experiences like this also help new students realize that the school is quite different from its reputation.

“Our kids are amazing kids. They’re talented. They’re smart,” said Natalie Stromberg, a language arts teacher at Mountain High who planned this year’s Lemonade Town with Call. “We have amazing teachers. We have an amazing staff. We have amazing kids.”

“We are like the best-kept secret,” Call said. “Our students really are creative, intelligent — they’re bright. They just don’t have the same resources as most other students or motivation, so they come here, and we motivate them.”

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