Created by contributors in grades K-8, the HyattsKIDS Life & Times features local news, columns, and comics from our city’s youngest journalists.  Our editors are Evan LeFevre and Claudia Romero Garvey.  To participate, contact adult adviser Mary Frances Jiménez: We also invite readers’ questions for our “Ask a HyattsKID” advice column.

Comic: Beardo by Mason Vosmek
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Third graders waiting eagerly for the start of a hybrid learning day outside Hyattsville Elementary, photo credit Tes Schooley



Amazing Art at HES
By Teresa Gembecki


Art is special in Hyattsville. While walking around, you can see huge, beautiful murals, sculptures, and lots of other art in our community.  


Hyattsville Elementary School (HES) is very lucky to have a wonderful art teacher, Taylor Pestorious.   Ms. P has lots of creative ideas for her classes, in person and virtually.  She says, “Pinterest is a godsend! … I [also] love talking about art history with kids. A lot of the projects are inspired by historical artists who I think [HES students] might enjoy.” In our class, we created Jazz trumpets, Pablo Picasso faces, and paintings inspired by Faith Ringgold. When we were learning about Piet Mondrian animals, she even taught my four year old sister to draw an owl when my sister watched my virtual art class with me.


Ms. P started doing art at a very young age. Ms. P told me, “My grandma is an artist, and she pushed me to sketch everything, and to draw upside down, [if I could]. It helped me a lot to break things down into basic shapes, so I could build them back up into complex drawings.”  


Ms. P is amazing because she makes all her classes fun. “The best way to be an artist is to share the joy of art with others. That’s why I love being an art teacher!”


On a brick wall alongside the HES playground, there are paintings of animals found in or near the Anacostia River.  This is a project showing HES fifth graders’ amazing work, with help from Art Works Now and the Anacostia Watershed Society. Ms. P told me, “We’re talking about the animals living in the Anacostia watershed and drawing a few of them. A local artist, Rachel Cross, will take a few of these student-made designs and paint them on the panels along Jefferson Street.”


Another upcoming project is painting the bird in front of the entrance doors of HES. “Right now, the PTA is working with Ms. P and Art Works Now to refresh the bird so it will look beautiful next year,” says HES Vice President Kristen Wares.  


“My favorite thing about HES is the families who made me feel so welcome here,” says Ms. P. “There is a love for art in Hyattsville that you can’t find everywhere. Somehow I was lucky enough to end up here!” We’re lucky to have her here!


Banana Blossom Bistro Delights with Pho

By Evan LeFevre and Irene Vaidyanathan


When you see the word “pho” you might think of “foe” — an enemy — or maybe “four,” pronounced by your little brother who can’t say his r’s yet. But pho (pronounced “fuh”) is actually a Vietnamese soup made from the bones of cows. After being roasted, they are added to the broth, giving it a rich flavor, which is then enhanced with salt and other seasonings. This staple of Vietnamese cuisine is usually served with meat and rice noodles, which are added to the very hot broth, although sometimes people drink the broth on its own for breakfast. In short, pho is a delicious meal for any time of the day.


Located in Riverdale Park, the Banana Blossom Bistro serves a rich, savory and filling pho. Protein options include beef, pork, shrimp, chicken and more. But soup isn’t the only thing on the menu. HyattsKIDS also tried the Banh Mi sandwich, which has tender grilled meat along with pickled veggies and a creamy sauce.


Not only was the food a delight, but so was the experience. The staff are incredibly nice and accommodating when it comes to food allergies. As someone who’s allergic to peanuts and sesame (two very common ingredients in Vietnamese cooking), our writer can attest that the chefs take allergies very seriously and ensure food-allergic patrons can enjoy their food along with everyone else.  Not only that, but our food didn’t take long at all, and the broth was still warm when we got home. Overall, this was a great experience, perfect for kids, adults and everyone in between.

Art Works Now Classes

By Evan LeFevre


Sometimes, school art classes feel like they limit your creativity. In kindergarten, I had a teacher who made us draw gingerbread people and famously said, “You can draw any nose you want, but it HAS TO BE A CHOCOLATE CHIP.” So when I signed up for an extracurricular art class, I didn’t really know what to expect. 


The Art Works Now Portfolio Development class (currently taught over Zoom), is led by Robyn Holl, a professional artist who specializes in abstract art. Robyn is like the Wizard of Art: She can give you really useful advice but also always has something encouraging to say about your work. Even if you don’t think that drawing or painting is for you, I promise that you’ll fit right into this class. Much of the process focuses on getting down the forms of what you’re drawing and focusing on shapes and shading, rather than small details or outlines. 


But we didn’t just refine techniques. Perhaps an even more important aspect to having success in this field is knowing how to present yourself and your work. Whether you are applying to a high school, college, or a job, anyone can benefit from lifelong interview and presentation skills. In Robyn’s words, “This class is a really great opportunity for teens not only to explore their potential as artists but also to convey it to others — both students and professionals.” 


The class is open to everyone from 11 to 18 years old, but younger kids still have plenty of other Art Works options available to them. Maybe you’ll take this class and end up painting the next Sistine Chapel, or maybe not. But at the very least, you can be assured that your gingerbread people don’t have to have a chocolate chip nose.