A year to remember

GUSD’s yearbook classes are determined to capture this unprecedented year

April 24, 2021

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Anna Arutunian

Clark’s yearbook staff is working hard to finish their spreads for the yearbook before the deadline in April.

With a deadline in April approaching, Clark’s Publication class students are clicking to share their screen on Zoom to share ideas and imagination with each other, in hopes of creating a yearbook that will represent the chaotic years of 2020 and 2021.

Initially, Christopher Davis, the Publications teacher, doubted that Clark would have a yearbook for 2020-2021. “How are we going to do a portrait section when we didn’t even have photos of three quarters of the student body?” Davis asked.

Surprisingly, more than half of the students still sent in photos, and junior Emili Cruz Sosa, the yearbook content editor, was able to organize them.

Upon seeing everyone in the class take it upon themselves to make the lack of content work and see the yearbook through to the end, Davis knew then that there would actually be a yearbook this year. 

Meanwhile, over at Hoover High School, the yearbook deadline is this week, which has the yearbook class pumping with motivation.

“Personally this yearbook is a testament to my strengths and my experiences,” senior Jimmy Barrera, chief editor, said, who is the first person in the history of the class to take it for all four years. “I have great pride in this book and I’m glad that some of this year’s staff seems to also have it.”

“Another message that I hope to send through this book is that the yearbook staff is imaginative and that even in this pandemic we can make a great book,” he said. “I’m so glad that we were able to showcase so much great talent and so many brilliant minds this year.” 

Clark senior Ernesto Aguilar, who was previously in the academics section for Clark’s yearbook, is now in charge of managing it. 

The role of academics section editor this year meant to me that I needed to encapsulate the struggles and beauties of remote learning in a unique way within my section,” he said. 

Initially, Aguilar was concerned that this would be hard to do given that everyone attends class on a computer and it is difficult to obtain content, but he said that he quickly adapted to finding unique ways to show how remote learning has affected students. 

“The most important goal I set for myself and my section was that our content needed to be unique to represent this unconventional year,” Aguilar said. Obtaining content for this year’s yearbook has been a constant struggle for the entire class, especially since pictures of students are the essence of a yearbook. 

In Hoover’s case, the yearbook is mostly based on weekly coverage and the staff has taken a more story-like approach.

“For some classes, we decided to take screenshots of Zoom and use those photos,” Barrera said. “Or in the case of culinary class, we used the photos that students submitted showcasing the food they’ve made.”

“Most of the content are interviews on trivial questions like ‘what shows did you binge watch?’ but some were bigger questions such as ‘what would your perfect prom look like?’”

Over at Glendale High School, senior Shadia Moran says that the message her yearbook class wants to convey this year is to not take the little things for granted.

“My role in the class is to make pages I am assigned to do with my partner Elizabeth,” Moran said. “My favorite thing to do in class is working on the pages with my partner in the breakout rooms.”

“Challenges the class faced throughout the year was getting content from students and needing to contact them, and all we had to do was be patient till people got back to us,” she said.

In previous years at Clark, students who had the role of photographers would be able to freely take a camera and visit classrooms in order to get these pictures. This year, the class has to rely on students outside of the Publications class to send in pictures to Publications members. 

“Pictures were always easy to get at school,” said senior Stacey Hovhannisyan, the photo editor. “Now it is complete chaos — from blurry pictures to the back of our peers, pictures are a mess.”

Hovhannisyan says that she misses the opportunities of going from class to class to take pictures. “I truly miss the faces of students when I had to pull them out of their mundane class,” she said. “Their eyes would always light up and they’d fly out of their seat.”

Hovhannisyan believes that the yearbook would be useless without pictures. “It is the pictures that draw in the people, not the captions. It brings the students closer, and it makes people feel like they contributed to the yearbook,” she said. 

Hovhannisyan said that yearbooks during any year serve important purposes. “These people are going to look and show their family how they look when they were younger, or show their kids how hot they were in their younger years,” she said. 

Sophomore Nikki Ballesteros, who is part of the clubs section for the Clark yearbook, found it challenging to get students to respond to her emails in order to interview them along with getting photos for the clubs section.

Senior Katherine Shovlin also agrees that it’s definitely been hard to reach people for interviews.”It’s even harder to reach out to these same people for photos that would accompany their interviews,” she said. “Personal deadlines were delayed to account for these setbacks.” 

Another setback the class faced was dealing with the technology at home alone versus at school with the entire class there.

“Because we are learning using virtual means, it was initially difficult to monitor the work my section members were completing,” Aguilar said. “Being in a physical classroom setting gives the advantage of giving people immediate feedback and advice, being able to teach others how to use programs like InDesign effectively, and just overall communicate quicker.”

However, the students were able to overcome these obstacles by taking advantage of personal means of communication and technology, such as Zoom.

“Despite being created remotely, I think that this yearbook will truly stand out in terms of quality and content because each and every new student is bringing their own thoughts and concepts to the table,” Aguilar said. “I commend their eagerness to suggest their ideas to the class without fear or reservation.”

For Hoover, Barrera found that the yearbook staff could be a challenge itself. “Students joined thinking that the class was an easy A and that you’d have a blast in it,” he said. While Barrera said that this is usually the case as he has experienced it, this year it has unfortunately been different.

“The best way to describe it is all work and no play,” Barrera said. “The morale was lacking and when the second semester rolled around, there were multiple students who dropped the class — that has got to be the biggest problem.” However, with the deadline approaching, students are working hard to create a memorable yearbook. 

Along with completing the yearbook, Clark students in Publications are also required to write articles for the Clark Chronicle, the school’s website, which Ballesteros has found interesting. “Doing all of the research, interviewing people, and having that sense of relief after finishing a feature is so nice,” Ballesteros said. “Seeing people’s perspective on certain topics is so fun to read and write about.”

Despite the obstacles that the new students face, Aguilar said that they are doing amazing and he enjoys their enthusiasm as an editor and admires their dedicated work ethic.

Aguilar has full trust in the class that they will get their work complete and with careful attention to detail. Every piece of work they have contributed so far has been high quality. “They are creative, resourceful students who have made a wonderful addition to the class this year,” he said.

Senior Anna Arutunian, the Clark yearbook managing editor, said that the new students have been really engaged. She even hopes that they will get the opportunity to go back to campus and work with everyone else after everything is over to at least get to experience things like group hangouts and late days, where they stay after school to finish work.

Still, Arutunian wouldn’t say that she’s necessarily worried about them. “I think they fully understand what they signed up for when they joined the class, and they’re definitely living up to our expectations,” she said. “Even if they’re not always sure what to do, they have so many other staff members and editors to ask assistance from, so they should be pretty solid.”

“The thing is, there’s something different about being in class, getting to know your fellow staff, and working with them one-on-one that you just can’t recreate over Zoom,” she said. 

While communication is not necessarily limited now, Arutunian believes that they can reach a lot more people in this remote learning environment. “But interviewing something over the phone or through text or email is just not the same,” Arutunian said. Regardless, the class is making do with what they can. “In terms of communication with each other, we don’t have problems there — even virtually, we’ve all gotten to know each other fairly well.”

“Pubs just won’t be Pubs without teamwork,” Arutunian said. “That’s one of the things about this class I appreciate the most, being that it taught me how to talk to other people and depend on them as much as I depend on myself.” 

“The teamwork is great and everyone is so nice and understanding,” Ballasteros said. “I love how easy it is to be able to talk to everyone and ask them any questions.”

An aspect that Arutunian is especially excited about when it comes to the yearbook is how many people outside of Pubs are reciprocating their requests for photos and captions. “I appreciate all the people who recognize that this yearbook is not only our responsibility but theirs too, especially during the pandemic where we can’t get our own photos,” she said.

Arutunian is also excited about how involved the new staff members are in the yearbook. “I know how it must be especially hard for them because they hadn’t had the chance to grasp the true environment of Pubs,” she said. “Even without us being in person, they’re still putting in a lot of effort and helping us come up with ideas, which is wonderful I’m so proud of them!”

The class’s design editor, Pamela Faller, has dedicated a lot of time on creating the yearbook’s cover, which is inspired from the Spotify app, essentially making the yearbook a “playlist” for all students.

“Similar to how a playlist is a collection of songs, I wanted the yearbook to be a collection of photos, stories and ideas that really represent the people of Clark,” Faller said. “With the title “Replay,” I want students to remember this very unique school year every time they open the book.”

“As a team, we really did our best so that every student can feel included in the yearbook in any way possible,” she said.

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