By Kim Becker
In late February, dollar signs and other weird symbols appeared on the walls of Wells Road School. In March, Mrs. Frost, the media specialist, came to a school assembly dressed in a lemon costume. It definitely wasn’t going to be an average school day!
After seeing a One School One Book program in action during a school visit, Dr. Anna Forlenza-Bailey, school principal, suggested to the staff that Wells Road should try the program, too. With a generous grant from the Granby Education Foundation, the staff chose Jacqueline Davies’ book The Lemonade War to read. Grades 3 through 6 read the book together, one chapter per night during the month of March.
The story centers around siblings Evan and Jessie who, at the end of a long, hot summer, wind up with competing lemonade stands and a bet with big consequences. While the Wells Road staff thought the book would be appealing because of its short chapters and siblings as main characters, the students also loved the surprises that kept popping up throughout the month. Mrs. Frost, who believes in “making an event out of a book,” created many exciting and funny activities. The students got to taste a lemon, participated in a daily book-themed trivia contest, searched for lemons hidden throughout the school, and read and created lemon-themed poetry. Mrs. Miller, the art teacher, hosted a staff art evening where they created lemon artwork, followed by the students making their own. A Granby police officer even stopped in to answer questions about permits and policing after the students read a chapter in which Evan is asked to stop selling lemonade on the town green.
The program ended with lemonade from Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and a visit from the author, Jacqueline Davies. The visit was funded through the PTO’s Enhancement of Learning Fund. All grades got an opportunity to listen to an engaging presentation by Davies on writing, coming up with ideas, story arc, conflict, and editing. The students were encouraged to ask questions. One girl even stunned Davies when she said that the math component of the book was her favorite part. “That is the first time I’ve heard that,” said Davies.
The staff knew the program was a success by the eagerness of the students to read the book together and participate in the activities. But Mrs. Frost in the library knew it was a success because she couldn’t keep the rest of The Lemonade War series on the shelves. Kids just had to know what happened to Evan and Jessie next.