Yearbook editors and staff adjust to challenges brought on by COVID-19


Emily Dunn

Senior yearbook editors on a Zoom call this spring.

Katie Rebhan, Culture Editor

In a world where COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation and virtual reimagining of many popular school events, working on the yearbook has become an even more difficult endeavor than usual. 

Editors and staff members have always created content and pages virtually, using a website called EDesign, which makes it relatively simple to coordinate work even when all meetings must be remote. To add to an already chaotic year, however, the website previously utilized Adobe Flash Player software that recently shut down. Now the website must be accessed through a new platform called Citrix that none of the editors or staff have ever used before. 

Senior editor Emily Dunn said, “The new site is horrible. I cannot express in words how much I hate it. Does it technically work? Yes. Is it slow, blurry, glitchy, and overall horrible to use? Also, yes. It’s incredibly frustrating and I think has slowed down our ability to get pages done exponentially. But we can’t do anything about it, so we just have to deal with it,” Emily told us.

Most meetings have also been completely virtual, so it can be challenging to work collaboratively, especially between editors, staff, and advisors.

Catherine Fields, sixth grade teacher and the yearbook advisor, said, “It has been really hard because the best part of yearbook is the camaraderie: the brainstorming and sharing, laughing, etc. In a Zoom meeting, that is missing. I think a lot of students join yearbook because they want that environment, and sadly, that has changed this year.”

It has also become difficult to fill pages that used to be devoted to school traditions and experiences that were canceled this year. For example, the Thanksgiving and Winter Lights assemblies were almost completely virtual. There are very few pictures from these particular events that can actually be put into the book. 

Senior editor Anabel Kadri said, “This year many of the major school events have been cancelled or moved to Zoom, which has significantly decreased the content for our yearbook. The staff has had to come up with creative ways to fill the yearbook with new and innovative content.”

On the other hand, there is still a lot of content that can be included in the book, even though it may be different from previous years. “Just because we are not having huge assemblies and events, the school is just as active, and the students are all doing really fun and creative things,” Mrs. Fields said.

Additionally, the yearbook’s team expanded significantly this year with six editors and more than ten staff members, compared to last year’s five editors and two staff members. While a staff means more people to cover major events of the school year, many of the new members only signed up for one season of the after school activity. 

“It’s definitely a challenge because many students are only with us for a few weeks,” Mrs. Fields said.

Emily expressed her hope that, with the larger staff, students who get involved with the yearbook will stay involved in the future. “I now have hope that the yearbook will continue on next year, even when we leave. I wish we had more time all together (or really any at all) because it’s really hard to teach them the skills and tricks of the system over Zoom. We all do our best over virtual meetings, but it sometimes feels impossible to communicate and actually get even the easiest stuff done,” said Emily.

Despite the challenges of virtual meetings, freshman Josephine Stump who was new to yearbook this year, has still enjoyed her time working on the book, particularly her contributions to the Lower School section. “Working on the Lower School pages of the yearbook has given me many opportunities to take trips down memory lane. One thing I really enjoyed doing was visiting the Lower School to take pictures of the young students’ artworks and visiting some of my old teachers at the same time,” Josephine said.

Although working on the yearbook this year presents additional challenges, both editors and staff recognize that this year’s team will produce a historical edition of Paragon. Emily spoke to the unique opportunity to document such a momentous year.

“I’m very excited how the book is turning out. We’ve spent a ton of time fussing over the details and matching colors. The cover is definitely my favorite I’ve ever worked with and I’m so pumped for everyone to see it! The yearbook staff, and the editors especially, put so much time and effort into it, and all we want at the end of the day is for people to love it,” said Emily.