Essentially an accelerated MBA for grade-school students, Lemonade Day University celebrated its fifth year Saturday, April 22, with a full morning designed to transform kids ages 8 to 12 into budding business tycoons in time for the big day — Louisiana Lemonade Day on May 6.

About 32 children dressed in happy yellow shirts showed up to the free event, hosted by the Junior League of New Orleans at its headquarters at 4319 Carondelet St.

Separated into groups, the kids rotated among three stations: one showed them how to make healthy lemonade; another taught about creating and marketing a lemonade stand; and the third offered instruction making a business plan, including how to create a budget.

“The Junior League was one of the first groups to partner with Lemonade Day Louisiana,” said JLNO President Maria Pardo Huete. “Our goal with this event was to do something that would take the lessons in the guidebook that’s used in Lemonade Days all over the country and create some hands-on learning opportunities where kids can really engage with the material.”

Though they may be just lemonade-stand operators, and for only one day, the students were not afraid to think big.

“I’m thinking you buy a lemonade and get a free visor,” said Kaleb Nelson, a sixth-grader at Akili Academy of New Orleans, as he worked on coloring a paper visor at the marketing session. “And I’m definitely going to have different sizes — small, medium, large — and then a souvenir cup option that comes with a fancy straw.”

While other members of her group enjoyed taste-testing strawberry lemonade made with agave at the healthy lemonade session, Gabrielle Rossit, a fourth-grader at Audubon Charter School, shared plans for her expected financial windfall.

“Last year I earned $57, but this year my goal is $500,” she said.

Coming straight from the budgeting session where children were learning how to separate their revenue into “save,” “share” and “spend,” Rossit said she was struggling with what she was saving to buy, but knew exactly how she wanted to share, or donate, her money.

“I want to split my money between the animal shelter and a hospital for children with cancer,” she said.

Also in her second year participating in Lemonade Day, Polk Elementary fourth-grader Sydni Wheeler had her goal broken down to the dollar.

“I want to raise $300 for a trip to New York City with my mom for my 10th birthday, $40 for books and give $70 to Lady of the Lake Hospital,” she said. “Last year, I donated books to the kids there and they were so happy.”

Teaching the next generation of Louisianans not only how to run a business, but the importance of giving back to the community are fundamental goals of Lemonade Day University and Lemonade Day Louisiana — a good thing to remember when the city erupts with lemonade stands on May 6.