I’m Heather, and I am the yearbook advisor at Baldwin Park High School. Sarah, our yearbook representative asked me to answer a few questions about how my staff got our book finished during the lockdown, so that’s what today’s blog is dedicated to – I hope you are able to learn from my experiences.
1. First, how did I utilize the limited resources I had while completing the yearbook?
I was in constant communication with my staff, especially that first week, because I was freaking out.
I basically asked for help from anyone I thought could give it to me. I reached out to the athletic director and asked him to send a message to all the spring coaches, since we didn’t have time to get team photos. I also reached out to the athletic director, my other colleagues, and to the old yearbook advisor of the school asking if they had any ideas. We had just gotten our fall and winter team photos from the photographer on March 10th, and then we were gone on March 13th, so we didn’t really have a lot of time to get the names for the photos, and naming all the boys in the varsity football photo was such a chore. There were probably nine of us working to get all of those names, but we got it done.
I also reached out to my staff members. I was in a panic the first week we were out of school, because we were told we would be gone for two weeks, which felt like the end of the world, but then it turned into us going back May 5th, and then it turned into us not going back at all. I was worried, because how could we complete our pages without having any access to the students? One of my staff members is a swimmer, so he was able to reach out to the swim team to get the team photos that we needed. I was in constant communication with my staff, especially that first week, because I was freaking out. There were three of my staff members who had Photoshop, so that worked out, because for our sports spreads we have clipped photos going down the right-hand page, and so I at least didn’t have to worry about doing that. So that is how I utilized my limited resources. My staff members had access to all their social media followers as well, so they could use that and get a lot of information that I couldn’t have gotten on my own.
2. Second, how did I communicate with my staff to get the pages completed?
There were some of them who were silent, who I couldn’t get ahold of, but I understood that I had to be patient and take potential home situations into consideration.
My staff and I communicated outside of class via Remind.com, so like I said I was in constant communication with most of them. There were some of them who were silent, who I couldn’t get a hold of, but I understood that I had to be patient and take potential home situations into consideration. Remind.com and email were the things I used most.
3. Third, how did I motivate my staff?
I just tried to send encouraging messages to people, especially the ones who were engaging with me and asking how they could help.
I motivated them by trying to be positive. We had to make lemonade with lemons, and everybody understood immediately that it wasn’t the ideal situation. We had ten pages we had to fill because events had been cancelled, and we had to find something to fill them with. The week before we left school we were pretty much finished with the book besides spring sports and whatever events still had to happen. I just tried to send encouraging messages to people, especially the ones who were engaging with me and asking how they could help. And almost everybody at some point reached out and said “What can I do to help?” I would send encouraging messages, like “You’re being a rock star right now, thank you!” or that kind of thing. I would also give them updates on which pages were being completed, and I think that that helped people keep track of what was happening. Everybody understood what needed to get done, so we got it done.
4. Fourth, why is this year’s book unique?
Obviously the class of 2020 is making history here, since quarantine coverage is something in our yearbook that is in no other yearbook in our school’s history, and that makes it a little bit more significant, I think.
Well, I think our cover is very cool. It’s a lenticular design with a 20 on it, and there are hundreds of little faces in the 20. We had our cover reveal party and that went over really well, so I think that the book is unique in that way. Just like any new cover is, right? The content is also different. We have different features – our sports spreads are different than they’ve been in the past, and the Covid-19 coverage is different as well. Obviously the class of 2020 is making history here, since quarantine coverage is something in our yearbook that is in no other yearbook in our school’s history, and that makes it a little bit more significant, I think. It definitely makes it more historical, and so we’re trying to use that as a sales pitch. We’re also including graduation speeches, at the request of someone at the district office, since the students won’t be having a graduation and so nobody would get to hear the speeches of the top two students. And I have one page that I can use for that right in the back, so that’s something that we’re going to be including, which to my knowledge hasn’t been done before.
5. Fifth, what advice would I give from my experience?
And you know what? If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, because it’s never perfect anyway. I understand that this year it might be a lot less perfect than in years past, and that’s okay too.
If you can ask for help, ask for help. I realized recently that I couldn’t do it all on my own, and I didn’t want to. I like to think of it as my book, but it’s not my book – it’s the book of the school, and my staff members are the ones who should be working harder than I am. If you’re creative and you dig into that creativity, and your staff members are contributing and they’re talking and coming together, then it’ll get done. And you know what? If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, because it’s never perfect anyway. I understand that this year it might be a lot less perfect than in years past, and that’s okay too. There was a point where I had to step back and say “Okay, I’m finished” – for example, we had no boys’ JV tennis pictures at all, and I just decided to stop asking. I couldn’t just create JV tennis pictures. There’s a point where you have to draw that line. That’s just how it’s going to be this year, and people are just going to have to understand – and they will understand, because everything got cancelled. What else could you do? You did your best.
My final word to you would be to keep your chin up. You’re doing everything you can. Just remember that the yearbook will turn out okay, and that even though this book may not be the dream product you had in mind at the beginning of the year, it is still significant and worthwhile. After all, as I said before, Covid-19 has made 2020 a very unique year, and is worth reporting. So stay strong – you’re almost there!
Alyse Mgrdichian, Senior Editor
Alyse Mgrdichian holds a B.A. from Biola University, having majored in psychology and minored in philosophy. She is a senior editor for TSE Worldwide Press, the parent company of United Yearbook Printing, and she applies her expertise and love of stories to the role.
Heather Malone, Content Contributor: Yearbook Advisor at Baldwin Park High School, Baldwin Park, CA