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Bronx Charter School Gives Students Hands-On Learning In Extra School Days

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Wednesday was the last day of the school year at one Bronx charter school, where administrators say they wanted to use the extra time not to wind down but to mix things up. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

School is finally out for the summer at Mott Hall Charter, a new school with an extended school year. But even though classes stretched into July, students weren't necessarily in classrooms.

One group of sixth graders started the school day at Union Square Greenmarket, where they shopped, and tasted, with a chef and restaurant owner. Other students were rowing in the East River or learning yoga, all based on the kids' interests.

"I learned that to make food, you have to be very precise," said Chloe Grant, a Mott Hall Charter student.

While the kids from the South Bronx said they'd never been to Union Square or an Upper East Side restaurant like Amali, they ended up at both places thanks to connections made a long time ago in a Bronx classroom.

"The owner of the restaurant, James Mallios, and I went to high school together," said Bob Lesser, executive director of Mott Hall Charter. "We both went to Bronx Science."

A third classmate is the school's dean. All are dedicated to expanding education beyond traditional classroom subjects. They stressed that it is not a field trip.

"A learning journey," Lesser said. "This is a way to get small groups of students out into the real world to learn about something, in this case, the restaurant business."

"I could learn about different types of cultures, how they make food, and then have fun along the way," said Nazaiah Topping, a Mott Hall Charter student.

"I think today was pretty awesome," said Alberto Gonzalez, a Mott Hall Charter student. "I got to learn what a farmer's market was, 'cause I never even heard of one, and I actually got to see it. I learned that supermarkets and farmer's markets are very different. Like, the strawberries at the farmer's market taste extraordinary, but the supermarket's is, like, nasty."

That's the type of hands-on learning the new school hopes to continue as it, and its students, grow.

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