Yearbook advising in uncertain times

By Ada Clark
Mooresville HS Yearbook Adviser
IHSPA Executive Board President

To my friends & fellow yearbook advisers,

If you are a fall adviser, we are a dying breed. I advise in a community where most people know that yearbooks arrive in time for Fall Homecoming. Our students enjoy having a book with graduation and spring events sewn into the binding. Call me old-fashioned, but I like having a fall book, too.

We weren’t running behind, but we had at least half our book to go on our last day in the school building, which was March 13. And since then, through daily Zoom calls, Canvas messages boards, and many, many e-mails, we are chipping away at our pages. Just as COVID-19 drastically altered the spring semester of our school year, it also changed the scope of all our spring coverage.

After nine days in a row of eLearning, my students met a huge deadline. We had our spring break and returned for a new schedule with eLearning only three days a week. There would be some breathing room. I thought it might get easier.

Then, on April 8, an EF-1 Tornado struck our downtown, wiping out electricity and causing major damage to area businesses. Some of my students didn’t have power or internet access for days.

Everything I feel like I knew about yearbook advising has been challenged by this experience. I would like to offer some words of encouragement to the other advisers out there who are managing a yearbook along with eLearning.

· Someday, somebody will open your staff’s 2020 yearbook and use it to tell their grandchildren about the COVID-19 pandemic.

· Although not every one of your students will have the same ability to create pages that they had when they saw you and each other in class, appreciate that your students are building their journalistic skills exponentially.

· Don’t compare your staff or your teaching to that of others. Your kids are different, and your community is unique. What you are doing needs to work for you and your students.

· Take a deep breath. If you are like me, you might end up offering your 11-year-old $2 a letter to help fuse names in the index. That is ok.

· When the yearbook arrives, it will be beautiful, because it will be done. Also, if you are used to having a spring book, it’s sad to miss out on that spring distribution; however, your book will still be received with much joy. Consider this yearbook as the greatest accomplishment of your career.

Best wishes to all yearbook advisers and reps as we finish this unconventional year!

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