Yearbook staff strive to encapsulate unprecedented school year


Yearbook staff prepare for last year’s yearbook in January 2020.

Clover Hill High School’s Yearbook team is a student-run organization that captures the ups and downs of the 180 days of school in a regular school year into a singular book. Although life at school is completely altered to conform to the new COVID-19 environment of the 2020-2021 school year, the yearbook, with minor adaptations, has continued converting daily school events into long-lasting memories.

The theme for the 2020-2021 school yearbook is To Be Determined (TBD). As a member of the yearbook staff, sophomore and Swetha Poluri has approached this year’s yearbook theme, To Be Determined, as a metaphor in order to portray a message about the virus and pandemic.

“Our yearbook approach is ‘TBD’ because this year had a lot of curveballs thrown at us, and we never really knew what’s coming next,” Poluri said. “We have tried highlighting that the unpredictability of the matter has changed who we are and what the [school] stands for.”

In order to explore this theme and put together a complete yearbook, the staff are following a process that is similar to previous years but in a virtual format. The basic outline of the process includes teams of trained staff working on two spreads, or pages in the book, which they have a whole month to design. Then, they must get interviews and pictures and write copies based on the topic given to them. English teacher and yearbook coordinator Kathleen Kilby has trained her staff to work together, even in the virtual format.

“We work in teams; each team works in a small group Google Meet while the editors and I hop into each meet, each class to check on how they’re doing,” Kilby said. “The staff has all kinds of great ideas about what content could go in a pandemic yearbook.”

Along with a new theme, Clover Hill’s yearbook team is reorganizing the book to represent the progression of this unprecedented year. Yearbook editor and senior Jonny Samuel highlights such organizational changes made from the “normal” yearbook.

“Instead of the normal ladder (sectioned yearbook), we are completing spreads as they happen or chronologically,” Samuel said.

During the process of creating the book, interviews play a major role in providing substance for each topic. According to editor and senior Elijah Bustamante, while it’s been difficult contacting individuals, the yearbook staff has adapted.

“For interviews, we’ve mainly relied on Instagram DMs, texting, and Snapchat [with additional] help from teachers when we wouldn’t have any mutual friends or connections to certain students,” Bustamante said. “I’ve had the opportunities to set up google meets with teachers and students, which made things feel a little normal.”

Along with updated interview methodology, the process of designing the book has also required more energy and thought and has allowed for many non-traditional means of portraying school events and activities. Bustamante recognizes the challenges that the pandemic has posed and details on a type of spread, distinctively enhanced for this year.

“For design, it has been difficult [considering] we wouldn’t have enough photos or content to fill an entire spread,” Bustamante said. “[However,] our creative side has pushed us to where we’re now creating “Speciality” spreads: [include spotlighting individuals] and unique design.”

While the negatives seem to override the uplifting aura of creating the yearbook, the yearbook staff has actually benefited from this new learning experience. Poluri reflects on how the staff, as a whole, have become more unified and learned to appreciate each other’s talent’s in this novel environment.

“The yearbook staff has become a better team; we help each other out when finding interviewees and help each other grow, supporting each other through thick and thin,” Poluri said.

The purpose of a yearbook is to capture a moment in history, and in this historic year, the Clover Hill yearbook team is pulling together. According to yearbook coordinator Kilby, “Despite all the setbacks and uncertainties of the year, we (CAVS!) are determined to persevere [to create] a book like no other!”