Welcome to Lemonade Town, erstwhile the George Washington High School gymnasium. Students here returned to school from summer break with a weeklong project; build a lemonade stand.

However, this is not kids on their front lawn selling cups for a quarter after raiding the family freezer. “They went to 10 different breakout sessions on entrepreneurship this week. They had to come up with a business model, apply for loans and pay them back with interest, and create company branding,” said Benji Carrier, school principal. “They learned about insurance, they learned about profit margins, so there are a lot of business aspects that our students experience.”

The project resulted a unique dichotomy of competition and unity among the students. At the Lil’ Lemon Cantina, a lemonade stand resembling a DJ booth, Nani Espinoza said that creating an environment to attract customers was a key marketing strategy. “Our music, our balloons, entertaining our customers, it’s just a fun environment and we’re trying to get this lemonade sold so we can win the competition.”

"Working together was the best part,” said Shayla Grace from Princess Peach Lemonade, a Mario Bros. themed business. "We get to learn everyone else’s ideas so it brings everyone together to make it more fun and creative.”

Princess Peach CEO Lux Shreeve said that projects like this at George Washington make a significant impact on students. “Honestly, I never liked school before I came here and this makes me want to be at school. It’s showing us that we can have fun while we learn."

While the project teaches students about finance and business logistics, it also develops skills at collaborating with a group of coworkers. At Boujee Blends, a lemonade stand with a beach vacation theme, Christian Gomez said, “We get to experience working with others and get an idea of how they will be as business partners. So you learn from them and their mistakes or make use of the attributes that they have and we don’t."

And even though these student businesses deal with imaginary money, the results of their hard work can be very real. "During the week, we have community partners that own local businesses come in and meet with our students,” said Carrior. "One of the businesses, Buzz Brew, interviewed our ‘companies' and mentored our teams. They were so impressed by the CEO of one student-run company that they offered her a job on the spot."