Yearbook’s Resilience to “Capture the Moments” Despite Virtual School

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Shea McIntyre

As students grow excited for the final edits to be made to the 2021 edition of the Green Hope Talon. Pictured are past editions of the Green Hope Talon yearbook. Years 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017 pictured.

Shea McIntyre

Toward the conclusion of every school year, students are given the book form of that year in photos from August to May. It’s where students survey the familiar faces photographed and write those quintessential “H.A.G.S” or “have a good summer” messages. But, with most students learning from home, how does the yearbook encapsulate the collaborative energy of high school when typical student sections, morning parking lot traffic, and the excitement of the weekend have all gone virtual?

Yearbook staffers are often overlooked for their unhinged efforts to truly depict the students and teachers in just under 400 pages. Taking a closer look at their new, modified strategies to represent the 2020-21 school year, members of The Green Hope Talon detailed the new methods they’ve implemented to still focus (no pun intended) on the students. 

Green Hope’s 2020, 2019, and 2018 yearbooks featured. With 2021’s school year soon to conclude, students are eager to see this year’s edition of senior portraits, and class photographs (as pictured in past books above). (Shea McIntyre)

Editor-in-Chief Ashlyn Dumaw elucidated the commitment required to make a memorable book. “I feel like most people don’t realize how hard it is to be a yearbook member. Even in a normal year, we dedicate much of our in-school and after-school time to creating a beautiful product. We put in consistent work for the entirety of the year. I personally dedicate as much time to Yearbook (or even more) as my other challenging classes, including APs, which is something that I think people don’t expect.”

I personally dedicate as much time to Yearbook (or even more) as my other challenging classes, including APs, which is something that I think people don’t expect.”

— Ashlyn Dumaw ’21

Understanding the staff’s thorough process to create the theme, contact anyone featured, get quotes, and finally seal the works of several students together is exemplified in their lengthy timeline.  First, roughly 2 months before the new school year commences, the yearbook begins to get drafted. Managing Editor, Katie Taylor said, “Ashlyn Dumaw, our amazing Editor-in-Chief, and I made our templates for all of the pages the summer before school started.” The books, typically representing the start of summer, are worked on for about 11-12 months, almost a full year so that the crew gets every spread, caption, and club photo picture-perfect before getting printed. 

 

Fiona Smiddy, a junior and new member of the Talon responded to the changes being made, “This is my first year on yearbook so for me, this is all I know.” With less student-to-student reception due to virtual learning, she has found it extremely difficult to engage and receive photos from the Green Hope freshmen. “Personally it is hard to get responses from underclassmen, they do not seem to want to be part of the book. Which I understand, but we want to get as many people in the book as possible.”

 

All yearbook staffers interviewed, regardless of title or years as a member agreed this year has been one of the hardest to connect with students. Especially since not all students have social media accounts, or check their student email. Katie Taylor explained this disconnect has been felt even in the class setting, “The staff bonding has been the hardest now that we are online. We used to do a lot of fun hang-outs or parties once we passed different deadlines, so it has definitely been harder to connect.” Despite the unusual construction of the book, Editor-in-Chief Dumaw said, “I think this struggle to get material has bonded us in a weird way.” 

The 2020-21 Green Hope Talon yearbook staff.
Courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Ashlyn Dumaw. (Ashlyn Dumaw)

Junior staff member Reagan Morris said the crew looks at things on the bright side, “This year, everything is more personal than the past years! We are constantly DMing people or emailing students asking for pictures. Obviously in years past we would walk around school and ask kids interview questions and take their pictures in the hallway, but this year we are letting them send in whatever picture they like of themselves!” Morris also elucidated that the crew took active steps to de-emphasize the theme of COVID and more so feature the resilient students. “We’re trying to stay away from making everything COVID based so we can try and make things more normal. Of course some things are based off of how we’ve adapted to the year, but we want something to be slightly normal, especially for seniors who don’t have their usual senior year!” 

 

Katie Taylor concluded and said, “although this year looks completely different, we still want to document it! This is going to be a crazy year to look back on, and every student will want to have something to remember this time with, which is what we are trying to achieve with the yearbook.”

Green Hope’s 2019 yearbook cover pictured. The words, “The year when…” felt very fitting to feature now as the school’s first ever hybrid on-campus / at home year is almost completed. (Shea McIntyre)

Every student will want to have something to remember this time with, which is what we are trying to achieve with the yearbook.”

— Katie Taylor ’22

 

Like Katie, Editor-in-Chief Ashlyn Dumaw said the student body continues to be the most effervescent part, which hasn’t changed through virtual academy. “The students who make up our student body have such interesting stories. Discovering these small aspects of people’s lives has expanded my own perspective, which is why I enjoy it so much.” 

 

All in all, the crew is excited for the book to be released this summer with more events like Spring sports, Senior Prom, and Graduation being covered. “I’m hopeful that when it is finished, it will be a true representation of how insane this year has been,” Dumaw concluded.