I woke up the morning of Honey Fest happy to see the sun. We were rained out last year and this year threatened the same. I have been working with my scholars all year to prepare for the day. Last fall I started and over wintered two nucs that grew into full sized hives at the Life Lab, our school garden. Last winter we created a business plan, a logo, and budget. Four apprentices learned to care for the hive. While one boy would become passionate about the bees, another would get into the business side. Some boys would lose interest and other boys would join. I took on two boys with challenging behavior issues and I saw that they loved the adrenalin rush that goes with opening the hive. The challenge with these boys was maintaining their interest when we learned about bees in the classroom. At the end of June at the height of the season, I said good bye to the boys for the summer. I harvested the honey with my other hives. A few weeks I rounded up the kids for bottling. Haphazard at first, the kids settled into a routine as they realized that it was not about what job they wanted to do, rather what job needed to be done. An assembly line developed.
On the day of honey fest, Denville arrived first. He looked uncertain about whether it was cool or not to be with his teacher and his mom in this totally unfamiliar environment. His mood soon changed when he made his first sale.
My girls arrived next. They were bubbly and excited. They wanted experience everything from the other vendors, to the food, to the beach. The three scholars fell into a nice rhythm offering samples while Denville’s mom stood in front and explained the project. By the time Emmanuel arrived we were in full swing with a steady line of people in front of the table. Emmanuel turned into our expert salesman. He was smooth and inviting when he offered passers by samples and no one could say refuse.
As I sat back and observed them I saw how excited they were. Kids from Brownsville grow up with a lot of messaging that their lives will not amount to much. Many people around them have given up hope. They don’t trust that good things will come their way if they work hard. This is why it was so important to me that Their selling day would be successful.
About half way through the day I could see that they were selling a lot of honey. I was excited. They were excited. Emmanuel was dancing. It was turning into a great day.
The rain did not come until it was time to leave anyway. One scholar asked if we could stay. Another wanted us all to go to the beach. Emmanuel said it was the best day of his life. We packed up and the kids headed to the train with Denville’s mom. They did not leave before we counted and divided the money they made. The kids made over $600 dollars!