Yearbook reimagines itself despite obstacles

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Anna Rachwalski

The Orator staff meets in daily Zoom video calls in order to keep up with planning and creating content for the yearbook.

Yei Bin Andrews, Lifestyle Editor

Yearbooks capture a school year’s defining moments. Snapshots of student life and traditions are compiled to create a time capsule of the year that was. 

With Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring’s decision for all Atlanta Public Schools to go online for the first nine weeks, learning via Zoom video calls is the new normal. The 4×4 schedule presents a challenge, as yearbook class is only taking place in the first semester when creating the yearbook is a full year effort. 

Junior Daniela Restrepo, co-editor-in-chief, explained how yearbook content will be shifting towards focusing on Grady’s student body. Yearbook adviser Gayla Blair said soliciting faculty and students to write and send in their own personal pictures and stories would encourage more student participation in this yearbook. 

 “I hope that the yearbook will be more personal and have a wider variety of multicultural content,” Blair said. “I hope this will encourage those students who are often left out of the yearbook to participate by sending in their own stories.”

Junior Harper Halloran, also co-editor-in-chief,  explained that the Orator’s staff has had no choice but to adapt to their new environment. 

“The biggest change is definitely having to find a completely new set of spreads,” Halloran said.  “Most of the stories we typically do wouldn’t really work now, such as ones about dances or pep rallies, so we have to be extra creative.” 

COVID-19 has halted student life on campus. Grady Stadium is no longer filled with cheering crowds, and the hallways aren’t filled with the buzz of students going from class to class. The absence of in-person learning has imposed additional challenges on the yearbook staff.

“I think the biggest challenge is getting everyone included because we’re not going to be able to take group pictures,” Restrepo said. “We aren’t able to interview as many people.”

Sophomore Emilia Weinrobe, a first-year writer, explained the difficulty of incorporating Grady’s large student body into a single yearbook, especially with virtual learning. 

“I think the biggest challenge this year is getting everyone into the yearbook because some people aren’t comfortable being in the yearbook and may not want to send in pictures,” Weinrobe said. “We try to get at least 50 percent of the student population into the yearbook, so it’s going to be difficult.” 

Remote learning has prompted the Orator staff to find creative ways to communicate and brainstorm ideas. 

“We collaborate in a Zoom call and talk about new ideas and new solutions to get over the obstacle of being online,” said junior Jack Collins.

Blair maintains a positive outlook on the situation. She believes time is key when adjusting to a new environment. 

“Nothing replaces the need for hands-on, in-person collaboration,” Blair said. “However, I do believe, things will get better as I, and the yearbook staff, become more familiar with the technologies that we have available to us.”

Halloran noted the editors will push writers to think creatively regarding content. 

“This yearbook will probably be one of the most unique ones in our school’s history,” Halloran said. “Online school will push us to think of new stories that we’ve never done before and really stray away from what we typically do.” 

Collins described an idea he had to incorporate an integral part of this school year into the yearbook: Zoom. 

“One idea I had for the yearbook was to have students take photos of themselves while on Zoom calls,” Collins said. “This is one of many ideas our team has created as a way to incorporate content of online learning, which is what will make the yearbook unique.”  

The Orator staff has to adjust yearbook content in a way that it never has before. Despite the difficulties, the staff still finds a silver lining in arranging the yearbook this year. 

“This yearbook is definitely going to be very different from past and future yearbooks,” Weinrobe said. “However, it is going to be a yearbook to remember.” 

 

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