Maize South Yearbook Staffs Battle Pandemic While Making Memory Books For 2020-2021

Yearbook staffs thrive while covering school sports but struggle getting content for student life for their annual yearbook.


Photo by Alexander Hoffman

Maize High yearbookers practice on their photography skills during a 4th Block scavenger hunt in the library on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Piper Pinnetti, Bullseye Editor-in-Chief

Students and teachers have been challenged with the intense school conditions and changes during COVID-19. School twice a day, an odd schedule. Sports games are getting cancelled and with no clubs actually meeting in person, how are yearbook students getting their content and event coverage to build their next professional storybook?

Maize South Middle School yearbook and English teacher Shelbi Self has had to adjust her teaching methods during the COVID-19 school schedule. Many of her middle school staff have just begun their journalism journey with yearbook, and have not quite learned all of the tools and rules of working on a yearbook team.

Since most of my yearbook staff is new to using InDesign and Photoshop, I have had to put together lessons that they can easily work on in class and at home to prevent students from getting frustrated,” Self said. “We have also spent a lot of time brainstorming new ideas for collecting coverage at school and at home.“

However, Self is looking on the positive side and reflecting on how successful her staff was this past May while only working on the yearbook virtually.

Last May, the most rewarding thing was finishing the yearbook, there were a few moments where I thought we would have blank pages at the end of our book due to a lack of time,” Self said. “This year, the biggest reward has been watching my students problem solve and get creative,” Self said. 

Jennifer Kerr, Maize South French teacher, instructs her fourth block students on the days of the week with a French calendar. Yearbook kids visited classrooms to practice academic shots during a photography unit. Photo by Shiah McLain

New Maize South High yearbook and English teacher, Madison Loomis, is teaching her first year at Maize South during the game-changing COVID-19 virtual format while learning how Maize South works and trying to navigate the skills and tools needed to create the 12th yearbook for Maize South.

The new Gold and Black schedule has students coming to school in person twice per week. Because of this, teaching a staff of new yearbookers is more challenging than ever.

Yearbook class is such a hands-on learning experience that it is hard to adapt to hybrid,” Loomis said. “The students are faster learners, though! They are really kicking into gear now.”

With the students improving their photography skills each week, there is still hope for a close-to-normal book. However, what is in front of the camera is a struggle during COVID-19. Covering a wide variety of events that simply aren’t happening due to safety protocol makes creating a yearbook a true challenge for even the most motivated student media team.

There are a lot of things that we would normally cover (like a Homecoming dance) that aren’t taking place this year,” Loomis said.  “We will probably cut down a few pages for the sake of completing the book with less events happening around the school.”

Despite this year being a rough patch for many, Loomis stresses how important it is that they still present a strong yearbook for the student body.

“2020 will forever stick out in our memories. It is important we capture what we can from this school year, so students have a little bit of history saved forever,” said Loomis.