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:

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Pumpkin Run
Comic byline: Talika Gorski

A fresh take on an old bird

By Teresa Gembecki, age 8


For a couple of years the bird in front of Hyattsville Elementary School (HES) wasn’t doing its best so the PTA decided to hire someone to paint the bird. It’s already looking really good. It’s exciting because we have an alumna of HES refreshing the bird! Hazel Hayashi graduated from HES in 2017.       

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Hyattsville Elementary’s bird statue received a facelift from an alumna. Courtesy of Kristen Wares

Hazel is now in tenth grade at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Hazel has been doing art for as long as she can remember. Her time in the Hyattsville Middle School visual art CPA program really helped Hazel to focus her ability, and over quarantine she started to develop her own style. Hazel explained, “I draw inspiration from all over. Nature, the people I see, and especially looking at other artwork.”


Hazel’s parents are both artists, and they started Hazel on her journey by providing materials and encouragement.  


“My favorite art to create is portraits in acrylic paint, and I like to include detailed backgrounds so I can paint many different things,” she said.


Debbie Van Camp, vice president of the HES PTA explained to me, “Hazel’s parents helped fix up the Little Free Library in front of the school a few years ago, and Hazel offered to help us refresh the bird sculpture.”


Hazel’s design for the bird started with an idea to paint a book on the chest of the bird. “Once I started drawing squiggles on the pages to resemble words, I quickly realized that they looked like birds in flight, and the rest of my idea came to me from there.”


Hazel’s process for working on the bird is this: First, she sketched her idea out. Then Hazel prepped the bird by chipping off paint, sanding and priming. Afterwards, she sketched her designs onto the bird and then traced them with a paint brush. Then Hazel began putting down layers of paint and adding detail. When she’s done, Hazel will apply multiple layers of varnish to seal it.


Hazel doesn’t have a definite timeline for the bird but believes the painting will be done in a few sessions and the varnish in a few sessions after that. “When I am able to actually work on it depends on the weather and how much schoolwork I have, but I’m definitely trying to have it finished by the end of September.” 


Josie Gembecki, HES kindergartener, says, “I am so excited to see it!”


Pyramid Atlantic celebrates 40th anniversary 
By Evan Muynila, age 9


Pyramid Atlantic Art Center reopened their gallery and studios on Saturday, Sept. 18, with an event called “Reflecting Back To The Future,” celebrating the center’s 40th anniversary. On display were different prints, all created at the art center itself and curated by Helen C. Fredrick, the founder of the art center.


One of the most interesting and clever prints on display was Shadow Fishing ll by Kenneth Polinskie. It was a print of a pair of hands making a shadow puppet of a fisherman. It was made using linocut, a kind of printmaking where a sheet of linoleum is cut into shapes and pressed onto paper or fabric. Both the linocut and the paper were made at Pyramid Atlantic.


The art center has played a big role in the arts community, providing the studio space and equipment for people that want to make contemporary art, prints, and books. The artistic director, Gretchen Schermerhorn, shared that “The organization is nationally known for its printmaking, paper making and book making. … People all over the country come over and learn how to work as an artist at Pyramid Atlantic.”


When asked about tips for young artists, Schermerhorn said,“It’s good to always be curious! Always be exploring, asking questions, and always researching and finding out things if there is something you like … yes, talent may help but asking questions and always learning about things that interest you is a good place to start. … The biggest tip is to practice — always keep doing it!”


The art center hosts many affordable workshops people can participate in if they want to learn more about making prints, and the gallery event is free and open to visitors until Nov. 14.


Waz’s ideas for Hyattsville 

By Virginia M. Berry, age 9


At Joanne “Waz” Waszczcak’s swearing-in at King’s Park, she made a speech about how children inspired her to run for city council. After the ceremony, she had her very first interview with me for the children’s page. During her interview, I asked her about sports, parks, and a few other questions. 


First, I asked what her favorite sports were. She answered, “I like biking on the Trolley Trail and the East and West Branch trails.” She also likes yoga. Her favorite park is Driskell Park because it has so many things to do: summer camp, picnics, biking trails, hiking trails, and a lot of other exciting sports. I think a lot of us agree on that. 


The next question was about family. Something really special about her family is that she has a granddaughter and a daughter only four years apart. She lives at the corner of 45th Avenue and Jefferson Street with her husband, daughter and dog Homey. She moved here eight years ago and loves Hyattsville.


My final question was about her goals for Hyattsville. She told me that she wanted to bring back the teen advisory group. The teen advisory group is like the city council, but for teens. Then we talked about storm water management and how it should be improved. Several Hyattsville houses have flooded during big storms. 


Waz had her swearing-in ceremony on Oct. 4 at King’s Park. Jo Waz seemed kind and considerate, and I’m glad we have a Ward 1 city councilmember who likes children so much.


HyattsKIDS seeks art submissions


Are you a kid artist who’d like to see your artwork published in the Hyattsville Life & Times?  HyattsKIDS seeks original artwork to feature in an upcoming issue. Submit photos of your work, along with your name, age, address and the name of your school to .