Students make their own slime at the school’s hottest attraction. Photo: Cheyenne Ubiera

Local businesses partner with Mott Haven school for family day

The line of students outside Room 116 of the Mott Haven Academy Charter School snaked down the hall Saturday, as pint-sized artists inside dipped their hands into an assortment of colored goo and, under the approving eyes of their parents, enjoyed an all-you can make slime session.

The “slime room” was just one of the many attractions at the fourth annual Family Day hosted by Haven Academy in partnership with local businesses.

Each classroom offered something different.  Room 206 had arts and crafts, where students could make faux stained glass windows. In Room 205, visitors could test their gaming skills in NBA 2K20.  And there were plenty of parents challenging their kids to a game of basketball in the gym.

Natalie Peña’s theme for her classroom, Room 114, was the spa. While she normally teaches kindergarten, she spent the day painting nails, helping people with face masks, and passing out free lipsticks.

It’s Peña’s first year teaching at the school and Family Day has helped her become closer to her student’s parents.

“This is a great chance for families and staff to come together,” said Peña. “These kinds of events strengthen our community.”

Parents and students were able to get their nails done in the “spa” room.

Peña also found enjoyment in interacting outside of an academic setting. Instead of discussing schoolwork, parents were sharing anecdotes about their families and were meeting their children’s friends, said Peña.

The entire school was open for everyone to walk around – many filed in and out of the classrooms while the gym had music playing on speakers for parents to dance with their children. Free meals were available to all in the cafeteria. The lobby turned into a makeshift marketplace as tables were set up for local business owners to sell some of their goods.

Denise Torres, the owner of Urban Nutrition Spot on Brook Ave., applauded Haven Academy’s relationship with community-owned businesses.

“They [Haven Academy] asked me to come,” said Torres whose son Ethan, 10, attends the school. “It feels very empowering.”

Torres, along with the other businesses in attendance, handed out flyers and spoke with parents about their products. She passed out samples of Urban’s house tea, which became a favorite among the adults.

Denise Torres, center, and her health coach, right, speak with parents about their house tea.

“People feel good about contributing to their community,” said Torres. “More schools should do this because it helps to build the neighborhood.”

While many parents voiced appreciation for the strong communal bonds, working parents like Evelyn Diaz expressed gratitude for school-related events falling on a weekend.

“We can’t always come to meetings or volunteer our time,” said Diaz, who works as an administrative assistant at a law firm. “This gives us a chance to enjoy the school with our children.”

As Diaz and daughter Nina, 11, walked the halls, Diaz noted the school’s beauty and hoped that there will be more opportunities for other people in the community to experience what the school has to offer outside of normal working hours.

“I hope we have more days like this to engage people,” said Diaz. “We need to bring more attention to the school in a positive way.”

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