Making virtual memories: A different year, a different kind of yearbook


Elizabeth Rajnik

The Rajnik family’s collections of yearbooks from 2014 to 2020.

Yearbooks are famous for cataloging the memories we make over the course of a school year, but how does one make a yearbook when no one is actually in school? No dances. Few sports.  No clubs–no people roaming the halls for candid photos.

Tracy Bozzonetti and her Publications class had to try a new approach. When people aren’t in the building, how do they compile the memories of a school year that didn’t even happen in person into a book? It was clear that the class would have to go a different direction compared to what they would normally do for yearbooks.

“As you know, there is a class called Publications that is responsible for all aspects of creating the yearbook,” Bozzonetti said. “They work together to brainstorm coverage and the theme. Then, after learning the basics of yearbook journalism, candid picture taking and layout, the staff then uses a program called eDesign through the yearbook company, Herff Jones to layout the yearbook in 2-page spreads.

This is just the bare bones of the process. The class of 17 students must also gather information to put on spreads. 

“Not having in-person school and not being able to cover in school sports, clubs, classes and other activities made it especially difficult this year,” Bozzonetti said.

Coordinating an effort to make a yearbook is tricky as it is. Being virtual provided a couple of extra challenges when it comes to working as a team.

Allison Byrnes, a senior on the yearbook staff said, “Normally if we were in school we would get together and talk about certain procedures on what to do/how to make the yearbook. This has changed due to the current situation because now we cannot discuss and explain as much as if we were in school.” 

Still, the yearbook is more than just a bunch of pages and words. There are hundreds of pictures that go into spreads. These have been difficult to collect during virtual learning.

“Having to rely on parents and students, and even teachers and staff to send in pictures to use since our staff was unable to take photos themselves was rather frustrating. We ended up with a lot of the same people sending in photos, so it was hard to cover a large variety of people this year,” said Bozzonetti.

To get the pictures for the yearbook, the crew had to take a new approach. Although, that approach was not always reliable.

“We started using and advertising an app system through Herff Jones called eShare, which made it easy for students and parents to send in photos. Also we sent out Google Form links to help gather photos and information. People did not always respond. It worked much better when people sent the links to people they knew.  If we interviewed someone for alternative coverage then it was harder to get headshots to go with them. Before we could just find students at lunch. Now we had to rely on them sending us photos which was a bit of a hassle,” Bozzonetti said.

They also had to contact students for quotes and information. That was about as easy as the proverbial “herding cats.”

“We have to email them, as you know, they do not always get back to you. Often I would have to send messages through Schoology for my staff, which did make more work for me,” Bozzonetti said.

This struggle comes after winning first place for the American Scholastic Association for the highest scoring yearbook in the 2019-2020 school year.

Emma Davis holding the Award winning 2020 yearbook.

 Emma Davis, the Editor-in-Chief of both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school year said, “I put so much time and effort into designing the perfect theme with how it relates to the Class of 2020. I also put pop culture into it with the return of 80s fashion. Me and two other editors spent weeks going through every page making sure there were no errors in type or design. You can obviously see the love and time put into that book. I made sure the cover and inside also well represented Linganore and if you see it on a shelf compared to the other books it definitely stands out with its color scheme and photography skill.”

I put my heart and soul into every yearbook I make. Sadly, I knew that this year would not come close to last year because of restrictions due to Covid-19. We also lost a lot of great team members when they graduated last year,” Davis said.

Creating a yearbook is a unique experience to be a part of. Not experiencing in-person publications class was a blow for the students who only get to experience this one last time.

“It made me really sad that this was my last yearbook and I never got to really experience it one last time,” said Davis. 

Every storm does have a silver lining though, and this one is no exception.

“I suppose we were more realistic about it not being perfect this year and that’s ok. We had parents create their own baby ads this year which was way easier than previous years, since we used to make all the baby ads in-house. Of course they do not look as good, but it was less for us to do,” Bozzonetti said.

Even though gathering materials for the yearbook this year was difficult, it wasn’t completely impossible. 

“Using the Google Forms and sending out FOF messages weekly helped us collect info. Also advertising the eShare app, and having students and parents send in photos also helped,” Bozzonetti said.

When time and circumstances change, one often has to adapt. Where old ideas might not no longer work given the circumstances, new ideas can come in and fill their space.

“We did a lot more student life coverage and fun coverage like featuring  students and their pets which was a fun spread. We just included more collage type spreads in general which we normally would not do,” Bozzonetti said.

These changes also gave the students new lessons as they learned to adapt to the new process.

“What this has taught me is that nothings predictable. Everything is in constant change. It’s taught me to reach outside my comfort zone and that putting in a little elbow grease goes a long way,” member of the yearbook staff, Erin Patterson said.

Circumstances change, and tactics that worked in the past might not succeed, but that didn’t stop this years publications class from moving forward. This year’s yearbook will be anything but standard, but it will also become one of the most memorable experiences for those who worked so hard on making it. The staff have put so much more effort and heart into creating this years’ yearbook. Who knows? Maybe some of the techniques that were used this year will stick around.

“We will keep letting Herff Jones create the baby ads, we will continue using the eShare app to allow everyone to be able to contribute to the yearbook!” Bozzonetti said.

Did you purchase a yearbook this year?


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