All posts by Diana Yaseen

Politics matters to all of us. It shapes our lives

GET OUT THE VOTE: Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally in fall 2015. Students and others in the community should get involved in the issues, write fifth-grader Diana Yaseen.
GET OUT THE VOTE: Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally in fall 2015. Students and others in the community should get involved in the issues, writes fifth-grader Diana Yaseen.

MY FAMILY ANDDIANA-MUG I went to a rally for Bernie Sanders, who is running for president. He is a state senator from Vermont. It was loud — it was in a big auditorium, the MassMutual Center in Springfield, that seats about 8,000 people. My mom later said 6,000 came.

Bernie Sanders is older than I expected. I thought he was going to be a young man. He had a massive amount of energy but after a while I got bored and felt like falling asleep.

I saw a lot of signs being passed around. Some people made their own signs. There were bumper stickers and pins.

My mom, my sister, three strangers who became our friends, and I held up letters that spelled out “Bernie.”

I don’t think he saw us — his back was facing us.

A lot of people were cheering. One section cheered, “Feel the Bern!” Many of his supporters started this cheer by going, “Feel the—” and the crowd cheered back, “Bern!”

He said he wants to be president because he thinks he can help the community by making four-year colleges and universities tuition-free.

He said if the police do something wrong [police brutality] they should be sent to jail, not just let off the hook.

He also said he is in favor of gun control because guns are dangerous and are used to kill people.

I agree with him. But if you don’t that’s OK. The important thing is to start getting involved in the issues. You can help in your community in lots of ways, even without voting for president. But the best way to help others is to stand up for what you believe in and care about politics.

Right now the president is Barack Obama, a Democrat, who has served almost two four-year terms, and that’s the maximum. The next presidential election is Nov. 8, 2016.

I think people should care about politics because it’s going to build our future.

Fifth-grader Diana Yaseen is a Flow staffer. These are her personal views. We welcome reader letters reflecting a wide range of respectful opinions at

Hogwarts Closed, Maybe For Good, After Friday Blast; No Injuries Reported

Diana fiction PotterHOGWARTS—A student’s spell exploded Friday, seven days before the Halloween feast, and destroyed a classroom. Sources say the famous wizarding school might be closed forever.

John the Ghost witnessed the explosion: “The whole potions class exploded! There were pig feathers everywhere. Ron was finishing an experiment for a quiz, and kaboom!” he said.

According to Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, nobody was hurt or killed. There were 36 students in class at the time, led by Professor Severus Snape.

Classes are cancelled for at least a year while Snape’s classroom is being repaired. A spokesman for Renalde Repair Company said Hogwarts might be in for many repairs or “might be closed forever.”

Ron Weasley, covered in ashes, told reporters he was still shaken up by the incident.

“I was just doing a potions quiz, and as usual just added stuff in and hoped it wouldn’t blow up. But it ended up as a colossal problem,” he said.

This is not the first time a student has burned or exploded a classroom, Dumbledore told reporters. “Once it happened in February, when the classroom was burned to the bone. In March 16 desks were in flame. In April the walls were dented beyond repair. But this time,” he said, eyeing Weasley grimly, “it’s colossal.”


Every story the kids tackle involves collaboration, with peers asking follow-up questions that then help develop ideas and voices. Here Diana reads her Harry Potter-based news story to Ainsley Bogel, left, and Hannah Chase.
Every story the kids tackle involves collaboration, with peers asking follow-up questions that then help develop ideas and voices. Here Diana Yaseen presents a draft of her Harry Potter-based news story to Ainsley Bogel, left, and Hannah Chase.

Keeping kids fueled for a long day of learning

FOUR CHICKEN NUGGETS, fresh fruit, peas and carrots, rice, and milk.
FOUR CHICKEN NUGGETS, fresh fruit, peas and carrots, rice, and milk.


BSE KITCHEN MANAGER Sonya Hamdan on meeting the need...
BSE KITCHEN MANAGER Sonya Hamdan on meeting the need…

WE WONDERED what goes into the school meals program at BSE. One day recently after the lunch rush Flow reporter Diana Yaseen and adviser John Snyder sat down with Cafeteria Manager Sonya Hamdan to find out.

Diana: Where does the cafeteria food come from?

Sonya: Some comes from the government. Every month we receive a list and can DIANA-MUGchoose from what’s on that list. There might be some hamburger or chicken, frozen vegetables, canned fruits, lots of things like that, and I’ll order from there. Also I order through a company called Thurston for breads and anything else we need, all the vegetables… The milk and the yogurt come from All-Star Dairy.

Diana: How do you decorate?

Sonya: I bought the decorations myself. The Christmas ones, some of them, Mrs. Shearer brings in from her home. All the Thanksgiving decorations are mine that I bring in from home. We lower those three strings and I can hang things from the ceiling. I think it makes it more festive to have something over everyone. And then I cut out with my Cricket machine different things to put on the bulletin boards. If I see something on sale that fits the theme I buy it.

Diana: How much food do you serve every day?

Sonya: Today was chicken nuggets and peas and carrots. We served 128 kids and so many adults. That’s why lunch counts are so important, so we know for sure. I have an idea, but right now we have a lot of kids who are out sick. So we need to have an accurate count. On a day like today when we have a per-piece item, like chicken nuggets or hot dogs, I need to know how many kids are eating so I can do that much — and I always cook a little extra. Kids come in late, or don’t sign up for whatever reason, and we have enough. Every chicken nugget is counted when we put it on the tray.

For the Thanksgiving meal we served 247 [diners].

Diana: And everyone else brings in their own lunch?

Sonya: There are 260-something kids in the school, so the others bring in their own lunch. Buckland-Shelburne has been a school where a lot of the kids bring their own lunch, consistently, for whatever reason. A third of the kids, anyway. There are some with food allergies, so we eliminated our peanut butter. Now we have SunButter [soy-and-sunflower-based]. That way we don’t have to worry about anyone. And a fair amount of gluten allergies. And there are some kids who just like what their mom or dad packs.

Chicken nuggets is one of the most popular lunches, along with breadsticks, pizza, and French toast sticks…

Diana: Fruit is popular.

Sonya: Every month different things come in that the kids like: frozen strawberries, some cheeses, canned and frozen fruit. This list is for the entire district. I write a wishlist for what I would like of those, as the list is for all the schools in the district. If there are only three of something a school isn’t going to get what it wants. But they’re usually pretty good about making options available.

Diana: How about breakfast? How many people?

Sonya: It seems to be 28 to 30 people. We’d like more. But what happens is that when kids come in they like to play on the playground with their friends. They don’t come in and have breakfast, even though it’s free for everyone who has free lunch, or 30 cents for reduced price, and $1. Thirty-six is the highest we’ve had.

Diana: Is there a lot of measuring?

Sonya: There is. Everything has to be measured. For example, when I’m making up the menu, I write down what I would like to do [serve], and then go back though and put in the vegetable component, the fruit component, the grains, the meats, because it has to meet requirements — a half cup (this is for lunch) daily, and a weekly requirement. Each kid for lunch must be offered certain minimum and maximum amounts.

The difference is that, starting this year, [2015] the kids have to go out with ½ cup of fruit — even if they don’t want it or they don’t eat it. They have to go out.

Vegetables: ¾ cup offered every day. Usually that’s ½ cup of one kind and ¼ cup of a fresh. But it has to be 3 ¾ cup per week.

Meat: At least 1 oz. day. We always serve 2; it can be a little more. But it cannot be more than 10 oz. per week.

Grains: 1 oz. That’s why, today, with chicken nuggets, I had to put a piece of bread on. Because the breading on the chicken nuggets did not count up to 1 oz.

And so forth. If you don’t follow these guidelines, when the state inspects you, you will lose all of your commodities that you order from the government; you will lose all of your reimbursements from the government, which is based per meal.

[Referring to guidelines] Here, this is a minimum of 1 oz. Who would give a kid only 1 oz. of meat or meat alternate?

John: Do you see kids having more energy and focus after breakfast and lunch? Do you see that as part as what you do in terms of being in a school setting?

Sonya: I think you’re right. More so, I think we give lunch to some kids who don’t have any lunch at all: No breakfast, no lunch. There are actually kids in this school who would not otherwise have a breakfast or lunch, and sometimes when they go home don’t have a supper either. So that is a sad fact.

Some kids in years prior have come up to me after the Thanksgiving meal and thanked me because they don’t have a Thanksgiving meal at home, never see decorations at home. It’s not the norm but it’s more common than you might think.