CAMPUS: Yearbook elective navigates barriers and challenges during online learning

A typical in-person third period for the Yearbook elective consists of traversing SCHS, interviewing students and taking pictures. This is not the case for distance learning, and instead of going around the campus, the Yearbook depended on communicating online and getting pictures from members of the community.

“If we were not in distance learning, we would be going to different classes for interviews and having a lot of photographers, including me, take pictures for different events, such as sports, dances, etc.,” freshman Yearbook staffer Christine Parayno said.

According to sophomore Yearbook design editor Ein Hong, their days begin with a check-in question, and then they go straight to work on the yearbook.

“We start off the class with a question Mrs. Blue, our advisor, gives us. These questions cover a wide range of topics, such as MOGs (Moments of Glory), or name suggestions for her baby,” Hong said. “Afterward, she reviews what we should get done by the end of the class period, such as if a deadline is coming up soon, and then it’s independent work time. Sometimes, staffers will go into breakout rooms, and other times, they’ll just work individually for the day.”

Yearbook staffers have had to adapt to distance learning and its virtual barriers. According to Parayno, the biggest difficulty was trying to get interviews from students.

“Since we aren’t in person, we can’t really go into a classroom to ask a student questions,” Parayno said. “When it comes to gathering content, a lot of the communication occurs through calls, text messages, social media and emails.”

Yearbook advisor Hannah Blue said that since students could not go out and take pictures, most of the pictures are sent in from interview sources as courtesy photos.

“Most of the images that are in this year’s book were sent in from community members, which was great, but it also means we have less control on the quality and sizing of images,” Blue said. “This was especially true for club photos. We usually have a really great process for taking them, but this year we relied on Zoom and Google Meet screenshots, which were not as consistent as taking real-life photos.”

According to Yearbook editor-in-chief, senior Jennifer Liu, the class had to increase the text on a page and decrease the amount of photos since photo coverage was a challenge.

“Nevertheless, I think we did rather well with that,” Liu said. “We appreciate every student who has sent in photos for our yearbook staff to use, and the yearbook couldn’t be the same without this help.”

This year, five people in the class had past experience, a much smaller number compared to previous years. 

“Much of our staff was made up of those who didn’t know much about Yearbook and had to learn while adapting to COVID-19,” Liu said.

Parayno believes that as a new staffer, the class was different and more difficult than she initially anticipated.

“My teacher, Mrs. Blue, also agrees that normally, Yearbook would have been much more fun and exciting in person,” Parayno said. “This year, it took a while for all of us to really communicate since we couldn’t really see each other with blank screens.”

Despite the virtual barriers, Parayno is grateful for Yearbook and feels she has improved on a lot of skills, such as communication and organization. 

Liu believes that the yearbook would not have gotten to where they were without the help of the community.

“Although this year was very different from previous years, this year’s Yearbook staff has worked very hard on the yearbook, and we hope that everyone enjoys the end product when they get it,” Liu said. “We wouldn’t have gotten to where we now are had it not been for all those who turned in photos, responded to emails and messages.”