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Lemonade to soothe the spirit

Scott N. Miller
This group of local girls has been selling lemonade to buy a memorial tree to honor the late parents of Brush Creek Elementary School teacher Leni Ronzio. The girls are, from left, Megan Culligan, Molly Lennan, Megan Cochrane and Brigid O'Neill.
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The exceptions to that rule are Molly Lennan, Brigid O’Neill and Megan Cochrane. The trio of Brush Creek Elementary School fifth-graders were hawking lemonade after school recently in order to earn money to buy a memorial tree for Leni Ronzio, who had taught the girls last year.

Ronzio’s parents, Tim and Carol, were killed in an automobile accident Aug. 23. While Ronzio was out this week, Lennan, Cochrane and O’Neill decided to do something nice for their former teacher.

“She was one of my favorite teachers,” said Lennan, a sentiment echoed by Cochrane and O’Neill.

Besides, O’Neill added, “It was just the beginning of the year and she was really happy.”

To help boost their former teacher’s spirits, the trio decided to earn money to buy a memorial tree. Then they had to figure out a way to pay for it. There aren’t a lot of ways fifth-graders can earn money, so the girls set up a lemonade stand. More accurately, they pulled a cooler full of drinks to a strategic site on Brush Creek Terrace, wrote a couple of “lemonade for sale signs” and started paying for a tree a quarter at a time.

On average, though, the girls are getting more than 25 cents a glass. One afternoon, for example, people who stopped for a cold one generally took a “keep the change” approach, especially when they found out why the girls were pouring drinks.

By the end of the week, the girls’ earnings approached $100. That might not buy much tree at retail prices, but Lenann’s dad, Mark, arranged to find a tree and installation at a better price. And at least one of the girls’ parents indicated he’s willing to pitch in a few extra dollars if needed.

“I was just blown away when I found out,” said Tim Cochrane, Megan’s dad. “This is really awesome.”

That seems to be the sentiment of friends and neighbors who pass by the girls’ makeshift stand. Robyn Bryant, who lives next door to Ronzio, said she appreciates the girls’ efforts.

“She’s a really neat person,” said Bryant of her neighbor. “I met her parents once. They were wonderful people.”

Brush Creek Elementary Principal Chris Mayhew said her students are pretty wonderful, too.

“I think this reflects on what a wonderful, caring person Leni is,” said Mayhew. “But is also shows what a wonderful community and children we have here. … Leni has touched a lot of kids’ hearts.”

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.


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