HomeCampusYearbook staff works to capture student life during pandemic

Yearbook staff works to capture student life during pandemic

By CASSIE GORMAN 

The annual Carmel High School yearbook is normally filled with photos of crowded rallies, club meetings and theater performances that depict students and faculty working and having fun together. But with no live school events to capture, the 2020-2021 Yearbook staff has been working harder than ever to capture the ups and downs of this year in a unique way.

As the school year began, there were many adjustments that needed to be made to ensure the staff was prepared. 

“There were logistic details that were difficult, like getting computers with Photoshop to every kid,” explains teacher Dale DePalatis, who has been the Yearbook class instructor and adviser for the past 26 years. “We had to buy cameras so that every kid could have a camera. Every step of the way we had to be creative.” 

Seven students make up the current Yearbook staff, but only three of them are returning students, making an already daunting task more difficult.

Though the yearbook is usually filled with photos of social gatherings, depicting students and teachers coming together, this year students on staff feel the emotional repercussions of documenting a year with little to no social gatherings. 

“Senior year was something I was really looking forward to a lot, but now everything’s different,” says senior Norah Bajari, the chief editor of the yearbook. “I’m trying to look on the bright side and be creative.”

DePalatis assisting a Yearbook staff member last year, an important student-teacher interaction that cannot occur in online instruction. (Courtesy of Dale DePalatis)

Bajari notes that tasks are taking more time to complete, as it is much harder to reach students online. When school was in-person, Yearbook staff would call students out of class whenever needed, a much quicker process. 

Senior Shannon Jackson, the Yearbook secretary, explains that without the luxury of talking to students on campus, other methods have had to be utilized. Yearbook staff now have to ask for pictures from students, with many staff members also turning to social media. 

“We’re using social media a lot more than we did in previous years,” Jackson says. “I ask questions on my [Instagram] story for my spreads, which doesn’t have a huge sample size, but is good enough for me to get a general idea for who I need to interview.” 

The entire Yearbook staff has had to get creative with layout, methods of gathering photos and what they choose to highlight. They have also been relying more on the creativity of students sending in photos.

While the yearbook as a whole proves challenging, there are also certain spreads that need special attention. Past yearbooks always had several sports spreads, but as of now, there is no predicting whether school athletics will happen this year. If they do not, the staff has planned alternate spreads to take their place. 

Spreads highlighting school clubs are also challenging. Not only are there significantly fewer clubs this year, but it will be difficult to get pictures of clubs in action. DePalatis notes the staff may have to get Zoom screenshots.

Yet with these challenges, there is a consensus among the staff that this yearbook is incredibly important, perhaps more than ever. 

“There are things happening now that will probably never happen again, for the rest of students’ lives,” DePalatis says. “There will be people studying the pandemic of 2020, maybe 50 years from now, and they’re gonna look back on yearbooks to see what kids were doing. It’s historic.”

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