Up’s and down’s: creating the Talon Yearbook, COVID-style

When it comes to the effect the pandemic has had on schools across America, the answers are seemingly still hazy, when they should be quite clear.

One year ago this week, students had to quickly and efficiently learn to maneuver their way around technology and the technical difficulties of “Zoom school”; sports and clubs have been canceled or postponed, and the Class of 2021 has had their senior year stripped from them. 

Dig a little deeper and there are even more problems schools face, still bubbling just beneath the surface. Obviously, the main issue would have to be the “virtual” school itself. Not only do students have to sit in front of a computer screen all day, but they no longer have the same outlets in which to relieve stress, such as hanging out with friends, playing sports, or working with clubs/activities.

Before any of that was able to happen, schools first needed to open.  And, when schools did finally open, they looked much different in every aspect related to student life.

One of the most affected clubs, one in which meetings are a necessity, is the Yearbook Club. After all, a yearbook should act as a memento, memories that were created throughout the school year. So, what happens when there is no in-person school year? Simple. Club members learned to get creative and improvise.

Most students join the Yearbook Club in order to show their passions for school spirit and photography. Photography especially plays a role because an essential to include in any yearbook are the pictures taken. However, with school sports and clubs being canceled or limited, this has caused a problem since there has been a lack of activities to write on and take pictures of.

Thus, the yearbook committee has been forced to think more outside of the box. Not every page can be a screenshot of a Zoom call from a school club meeting and topics dedicated to bigger events, such as pep rallies, Falcon Forum, Ring Dance, and Prom obviously can’t be used this year. Although this is a hard obstacle to work around, the Yearbook Club members decided to use this to their advantage. 

“This year’s yearbook is definitely different from the past ones, but in a good way,” senior yearbook staffer Gabriella Gonzalez said. “We’ve been able to come up with so many more ideas for pages about the pandemic that makes this yearbook really unique.” 

Many of the acting yearbook editors agreed that instead of trying to shy away from the current world climate, they wanted to fully embrace it, believing the best way to do this is to be upfront and honest about the pandemic in their writing and chosen topics.

Staffers want to leave no rock unturned, providing a glimpse into student and faculty life amidst this change in the school environment. They also want to discuss the better aspects of these challenging times, reminiscing on events that have made this year special and including students’ opinions about current trends. 

“We’re in completely uncharted territory here,” senior yearbook staffer Amanda Zheng said. “So, I think we really just want to take advantage of what we have right now and incorporate that into our spreads.”

In order to bring these ideas to life, safely, during the pandemic, club members have controlled when and how they take pictures. Senior superlative pictures, for example, were set up so that only two students came in at a time to take their pictures outside of the school, and then left before two new students showed.  There is also only one photographer at a time when taking photos, whether for sporting events or individual student pictures, and photographers are always socially distanced and wear a mask. The club also meets weekly to discuss and communicate any changes and to make sure everyone is on the same page with the direction they want to go in. 

Even with a bit more on staffers’ plates than anticipated, the yearbook club has worked remarkably well under the pressure. All deadlines have been met and there is a joint agreement among members as to what jobs and duties in which everyone is responsible.

From any perspective, the yearbook club remains as it always has in years past, a well-oiled machine that delivers a specially crafted yearbook for the entire school to enjoy.

“These kids are just great to work with,” yearbook sponsor Mr. Graninger said. “They’ve got the best work ethic and have taken on all of their roles with enthusiasm despite the challenges. Without them, I don’t think this yearbook would be nearly as well put together as it is right now.”

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