I am currently a sophomore and this is my first year as a staff member for the Crusader. For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to expressing...
“Out of the Blue”
BVH's yearbook staff captures memories in yearbook amidst COVID-19
March 4, 2021
Every year at Bonita Vista High (BVH), a group of students works together to capture the essence of a school year in one book. Generally, the book is similar to the previous years with the same content; people being the only component changing. However, the 2020-2021 yearbook will break these traditional patterns by being the first BVH-produced yearbook to have screenshots of a computer screen as photos for the book. The yearbook staff had to change the traditional yearbook because the COVID-19 pandemic came “Out of the Blue,” which later became the theme of the yearbook.
“We [the 2020-2021 yearbook staff] came up with [the] theme because this whole pandemic came out of the blue and [no one was] expecting it,” Managing Editor of the Excalibur, BVH’s yearbook and senior Ysabelle Henry said. “We wanted to capture this pandemic; because in last year’s yearbook we didn’t really [address it].”
Advisor of the Excalibur, Advanced Placement Literature and Composition teacher Gabriel Garcia explains how the yearbook staff physically couldn’t capture the pandemic. He says that the staff typically finishes the last pages of the book in March when BVH was released from school. That is why this year the staff is making sure they acknowledge the historical impact of the pandemic in the yearbook.
“We want to take an angle on what you miss [and] what you took for granted during school. I feel like we all [underappreciated] things—going outside without a mask,” Henry said.
To successfully portray the aforementioned angle, and to accurately represent the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the yearbook staff has focused more on showcasing individuals instead of groups. Garcia says that the pages are more centered around the concept of being at home.
“We’re trying our best to approach [events and pages] in a way that’s the most effective. We want to approach them [in a manner] that voices everyone’s opinion, especially teachers, staff [and students],” photographer for the Excalibur and senior Angelica Castillo said.
Henry describes how taking screenshots of events is very different from taking physical pictures of events because the idea of capturing a story is lost. She explains that part of this reason is that the staff members can’t get emotion from a screenshot.
Both the yearbook staff and Garcia agree that a book with only screenshots of online meetings would be very boring; however, as Castillo says, the staff wants to include some screenshots so they “can use this once in a lifetime opportunity to [create] something new out of the yearbook.”
Even though much of the yearbook content is different, the class routine, for the most part, has remained unaffected. The main difference in the yearbook is the students’ communication with Garcia. Now, the class meets virtually on Google Meet instead of in a classroom together. Garcia describes how he still took the first six to eight weeks going through the general journalistic curriculum with the students. In addition, the staff still uses “E-design” as their platform to assemble the spreads.
“As a yearbook advisor, the first thing that I tell the students is that it is their book. So, my job is to make sure that they are working to produce a book that is consistent and inclusive,” Garcia said. “Those are my two main concerns.”
Garcia illustrates that the only main change made to how he runs the class is how he approaches the students. Prior to the pandemic shutting down schools, he would walk around the class and check in on the students. He would also see the students for more time allowing him to connect with them. Now both actions have dwindled dramatically.
“I try to encourage the [yearbook] editors to take a greater role in leading the class because it takes [more] time for them to build trust and communication [with the incoming staff]. [This is] necessary [so students] do not feel intimidated by [staff returners],” Garcia said.
Henry expresses how she thinks the staff has better communication this year compared to the previous year, and part of the reason is because distance learning has made the staff have to reach out more outside of class times. Henry adds that even though the communication overall has improved, the logistics of it have worsened.
“It’s a little more challenging trying to contact them through their phone because some people are getting their phone taken away due to grades or there are internet issues,” Henry said. “[This] is challenging for me because I want to try to get in contact with them to help them, but they can’t contact me.”
Communicating with each other and with sources for the yearbook is not the only challenge the staff is running into. They are also having a problem finding people, in all grade levels, willing to be in the yearbook.
“I empathize with my staff because it is a lot harder to reach students [who] want to participate in the process. Unfortunately, what we’re finding is that the student spirit is somewhat demoralized,” Garcia said. “And because that school spirit isn’t fostered consistently, it’s kind of reflected in students’ willingness to appear in the yearbook.”
In June 2021 the BVH community will see the work of the Excalibur staff and the differences in the yearbook. When someone flips through the pages of BVH’s 2021 yearbook, “Out of the Blue,” they will look back at the time when school was online, and when virtual video meetings became almost the equivalent of a best friend. Possibly, even, they will empathize with the struggles people faced and be filled with gratitude for what they have. But most of all, they will remember the 2020-2021 school year for what it was.
“There’s going to be a whole lot of value in being able to open up a book and look back to the time where we were all locked in our own homes, trying to find happiness and meaning in our lives,” Garcia said. “This is going to be a really special yearbook. It’s going to be unique and it’s going to [contain] memories of times that were both good and bad, and they’re equally important to record.”