Created by contributors in grades K-12, the HyattsKIDS Life & Times features local news, columns, and comics from our city’s youngest journalists. Would you like to see your art or writing on our page? Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Girl Scout publishes book to help teen girls
By Evan LeFevre, age 15
We all know the beloved Jim Henson memorial in Driskell Park and how the world-famous creator of the Muppets grew up in our small town. Similarly, Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, grew up only a couple miles from where you probably live. But a creative Hyattsvillian you might not have heard of is Liliana McGee. Liliana is a senior at Elizabeth Seton High School, and as of 2020 has authored her first book, a hybrid graphic novel and journal aimed at helping teen girls cope with bullying, depression and body issues. Finding Joy is the resource she says she wishes she had going through a tough time during her younger years.
Liliana created Finding Joy to fulfill the requirements of her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve. In a November 2020 interview, Liliana asked for donations to get her book printed in color. For every dollar donated, she was able to publish one book in color, and the donations far exceeded her expectations. By the end of November she had raised enough money to publish 3,000 of her books in color and give them to girls in the community.
Nowadays, Liliana is making sure that her senior year in high school isn’t the height of her career. Between applications to college and pursuing her recent interest in modeling, she has a full plate. Luckily, Liliana says her project “helped to prepare me for the future. It gave me closure from going through the healing process and inspired me to continue helping people in their processes of healing.”
Even in the short time that it has been since she published her first book, Liliana says the change that she has seen in the world is encouraging. “Yes, these past years have had a lot of changes in the world, and although things are getting better, we have a long way to go as a society,” she says. Liliana’s dream for the future is that people like her won’t have to establish a platform for their message to get across. Like many others, she believes that people with an existing platform have a responsibility for educating their audience. “People in the spotlight have a special responsibility to help out their followers because they could be in tough situations as well,” she says. So to all the future celebrities of Hyattsville: Do your job and spread the message.
American Heritage Girl creates prayer garden
By Claudia Romero Garvey, age 14
A Hyattsville teen recently created a prayer garden for pregnant women to fulfill the requirements of the American Heritage Girls (AHG) Stars and Stripes Award. With its motto of “Faith, Service, Fun,” AHG is dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.
The Stars and Stripes Award is the highest honor an American Heritage Girl can achieve. In order to become a candidate for the Stars and Stripes Award, a girl must earn her Patriot Level award, earn nine required badges plus seven more badges of her choosing, serve her troop in leadership, and finally complete a 100-hour service project benefiting her community. Jane Gorman, who recently achieved this honor, states that, “The hardest part of earning the Stars and Stripes Award was keeping track of all the different parts. The project alone is very complicated; there are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of people to contact, a lot of layers of paperwork, etcetera. Writing everything down was very helpful to make sure I didn’t forget anything.”
For her service project, Jane designed and managed the construction of a prayer garden in a Gabriel Network maternity home. The idea behind the garden was to create a space where the mothers and staff could come to pray and meditate, rest, be still, enjoy the beauty of the flowers and find peace. Here are some of the challenges she faced with this project: “I didn’t have much experience planning building projects before, so figuring out all the different steps I needed to do was difficult. I also remember struggling with designing some of the furniture for the garden; making sure all the pieces lined up and matched and the furniture overall looked nice was much more difficult than I had expected.”
Jane’s biggest takeaway from earning this award was how worth it it is to go for something, even if it seems too ambitious at first. Because she joined AHG later than a lot of other girls, the idea of earning the award in just three years seemed impossible. Jane remarked, “I know it sounds super cliché to say ‘You can do anything you put your mind to,’ but to a certain extent it was true in this case. Deciding that, even if it seemed crazy, I was going to try, was one of the first big steps in this process.” Jane’s best advice to American Heritage Girls and other kids striving to achieve big goals is to “Write stuff down [and] work with your mentor. It’ll be a crazy ride with a lot of twists and turns, but you’ll be happy you did it at the end.”
The Editor’s Eldest
By Nora Marx, age 12
“Someone’s got to have something;”
A kid!” says worried Mum,
“The paper’s out on Monday!
It needs one more story. ONE!”
Sister 1 keeps reading:
“I haven’t got a thing.”
Sister 2: “Not literate?”
“Ooh,” says Brother, “Zing.”
Says Sister 2, “I’ve got a few,
I think they’ve a Dickens-like drift.”
“Knowing you, they’re terrible,”
says Sister 1, still miffed.
Says Brother, “I can’t read, or write,
Though I could dictate to you.”
Silence. Well, Baby coos.
“I want CANDY!” declares Baby.
(To the issue unrelated.)
“GIMME MY BLUE DOGGY!”
That is all that Baby stated.
Enter me, our hero,
Upon this dramatic scene.
Mama leaps. “Have you a story?”
In her eyes a hopeful gleam.
“No,” I say musingly,
“But I could write a poem in time.
Let’s see, it’d have to have meter
And beautiful language, and rhyme … “
Sister 1 says “Prose!”
“A rap!” calls Sister 2.
“I’d like it more of a ballad,”
Says Brother. Baby coos.
So I take a seat at my desk
I say, “I might let
myself think about it; write a poem
… Have I yet?”