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October 2020 HyattsKIDS Life & Times

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Posted on: October 11, 2020

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: mf********@ya***.com. We also invite readers’ questions for an upcoming “Ask a HyattsKID” column.

Franklins’ New Outdoor Dining Pleases Kids, Adults

By Mason Vosmek


When I walked into the Franklins “Quarantiki” Room, I was very surprised at just how lively it felt. The decor really made it pop, and it will probably be fun for young kids to sit outside. Additionally, the nice weather made it feel even better. 


The food has suffered no decreases in quality even with the move outside. I had the Cook’s House burger, a combination of lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, cheese, and sriracha mayonnaise, which should be classified as an addictive substance by the FDA for how good it is. However, I refrained from the lettuce and tomato myself. I must warn anyone who wants to eat this burger: you should certainly use the toothpick, as without it, the high tower of food is terribly unstable. We also got an order of onion rings, which seemed significantly larger than usual, although there was proportionately less horseradish sauce to go around. I also sampled the fish tacos, which, although a little spicy, were simply overflowing with wonderful ingredients. The fish itself was very tender and the spices really brought out the flavor. 


Adults will enjoy their signature beers and the new tiki drink menu. All the menus are also contactless and scannable with a barcode, so bring your phone. Conveniently enough for any kids who aren’t able to finish, the dishes already come in take-out bowls . I would certainly recommend Franklins as a great Hyattsville restaurant destination during quarantine.


St. Jerome’s Reopens With Hybrid Model
By Claudia Romero and Irene Vaidyanathan


This fall, St. Jerome Academy (SJA) opened with a hybrid learning platform. Students in grades 1-8 are divided into a “blue” group and a “gold” group, which rotate for two days a week of in-person attendance. The teachers work simultaneously with students at the school and online. The school is also offering a full distance learning platform to any who desire it.


As a classical school, which focuses on learning from primary materials and discussions among teachers and students, most of the SJA teachers were unprepared for online school last spring.  However, throughout the chaos that 2020 brought, the staff remained flexible. Over the summer, they trained in the distance learning platform. Math teacher Michelle Orhan states, “I use discussion often in my math classroom and will continue to do so” in a way she hopes will “engage the in-person and at-home learners.”


SJA has already faced many trials this year, including a flood that affected the entire bottom floor and the challenges of reopening the school for in-person learning. Principal Danny Flynn described ventilation updates the school has made, and explained, “Every classroom has dual directional fans in their windows. The hallway windows are open and we have oscillating fans bringing fresh air into the building.” He also notes that the school added tents for outdoor teaching and is promoting additional hand washing.  Despite all of these changes, Flynn says the school as a whole has continued to prioritize an education for the students in beauty, truth, and love.

Tent classrooms outside SJA allow for air circulation
Photo credit: Elliott Kramer


Middle School and Pandemic Challenges
By Claire Alolga


My life was pretty normal for an eleven year old living in Hyattsville until the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus has changed a lot of things in my life, from school to soccer practice. This year I started 6th grade at Greenbelt Middle School, and I haven’t even been in the school building yet! It’s disappointing, and I feel sad that I am going to miss using a locker and joining a school sports team for the first time. 


When we had to change to online learning for the spring, I thought everything was so sweet. Being home and “relaxing” all day while having a shorter school day than usual–that was the dream. Then suddenly it was summer. I thought that at least one positive thing was fewer cars driving around and not as much air pollution. But then the infection numbers were climbing. In that moment it felt like the Coronavirus would go on forever. 


Well, summer is over, and the virus is still keeping us at home and out of school. Everything is going well with my new teachers and classes, but it feels bland to me. I mean, if you think about it technically, I don’t see my teachers’ real faces, it is only a digital version. It feels empty not being able to interact with other people. 


The virus has also impacted my physical health. If I was still going to school, I would be walking around a big school instead of staying home on the computer for most of the day. It has also impacted my mental health, because now that I am in the house a lot, I don’t have much motivation anymore. But even though it has been difficult for me, I cannot imagine how hard it is for people who are losing their jobs. The only thing we can do is keep fighting and get through this together, but remember: six feet apart!


Oak Planting Benefits Local Ecosystems
By Talika Gorski and Beatrice Marx


Looking for ways to benefit the environment? Try planting a tree. David Ruppert, a soil scientist at the University of Maryland, recommends an oak.


One great thing about oaks, according to Ruppert, is that they support 543 native species of moth and butterfly caterpillars, more than any other tree in Hyattsville.  The caterpillars, almost all protein, are a main food for baby birds, frogs, and other insects.  And when the caterpillars grow up, as butterflies and moths, they will be very important in pollinating flowers.  


Chris Lemieux of the Anacostia Watershed Society explains that plants, especially trees, are also important to the Anacostia River and its watershed. Along with trash and chemical pollution, sediment pollution can harm rivers like the Anacostia. The dirt accumulated from water flowing down a hill goes into the river and builds up on the bottom. But plants and foliage protect the watershed. Trees need water, so every time it rains, the foliage absorbs some of the water. Additionally, the trees’ roots dig into the soil. The roots act like a giant hand, holding the soil in place, preventing that land from erosion.


Best of all, planting an oak is quite easy.  For white oaks, you only have to put the acorn in the ground. Red oaks need to think winter is over to sprout, so put them in the fridge for about a month before planting.  Oak trees can grow very big and give a lot of shade, but maximum size depends on the right kind of soil.  According to Ruppert, “The best soil looks dark, fluffy and damp, but well drained.” 


When you plant an oak outside, look for an area where there’s not too much competition from other plants. Protect it from squirrels and deer with a chicken wire cage. Once you’re confident that your plant is strong, you can remove the cage and enjoy your beautiful tree!


Evan LeFevre’s 15 Minute Lo Mein  

With all of Hyattsville stuck at home, kids are running out of things to do. Cooking a meal is a great way for kids to have fun and help out at the same time. Here is a dish that is easy enough to make at home, yet still special, delicious and impressive. 


Lo Mein is a Chinese dish made with stir fried vegetables and ramen noodles. For protein, kid chefs can add shrimp, leftover steak or chicken strips. 


For the sauce –

  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar


Lo mein –

  • 4–6 oz. uncooked ramen noodles
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil (or vegetable oil, for chefs allergic to sesame like the writer)
  • 3 green onions, chopped (use only the white parts)
  • 2–3 c. vegetables like carrots, red peppers, cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, or broccoli cut julienne style (thin strips)
  • Shrimp, chicken or steak (optional)
  • 1–2 Tbs. mirin


Directions –

  1. Make the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together.
  2. Cook and drain the noodles according to the package.
  3. Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet. Add the green onions and vegetables to the hot pan. Stir fry until easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Add the mirin to loosen the browned bits up off the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Add the cooked noodles and about half of the sauce (and meat, if using).  Toss around in the hot pan to combine. Taste and add more sauce if needed. 


Recipe adapted from –




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