For the first time in its publication history, the yearbook is going to be published online in the last week of classes, with printed copies not being distributed to students until August.
The delay in distributing printed copies to students is due to the publishing company shutting down its printing plant. Balfour, located in Texas, shut its printing plant around the time that the school started distance learning. The plant only re-opened on May 18. Middle and high school yearbook teacher Ms. Rhiannon West said, “Balfour will be working around the clock to print yearbooks, but it isn’t possible to print the books for the normal time frame of June delivery.” The decision was made to post it on the ASL website “so everybody can see the content,” she said. “Then once the book is ready, hopefully in August, everybody will get a hard copy of it.”
For students who leave the school before the yearbook is distributed, a copy of it is always mailed to their location. “This year when we do get the book, we will make sure that anybody who has left ASL will still get their copy of their yearbook,” Ms. West said.
Ms. West said that the most disappointing aspect of the yearbook being distributed online is not being able to see students’ reactions. “The students who work on yearbook – they put a lot of effort into it and they’re always excited to say, ‘oh yeah I helped work on that page’ and things like that. I think that’s going to be the toughest moment for me as a teacher, not having that distribution day that we would normally have in the middle school,” she said.
Under normal circumstances, once the book is submitted to Balfour, yearbook students begin working on the Spring Supplement. It is posted online at the end of the year and contains coverage of trips, sports, and events that take place in the spring. “Well, none of that is happening,” said Ms. West. There will be no Spring Supplement, and instead, students are working on their graphic design and photography skills. “All of my students are doing a spread right now on their distance learning journey. So they’re still working on the layout and typography and writing copy but it’s a spread that they’re working on just for themselves which is going to be shared with the class,” she said.
“They’re still meeting the same standards and gaining the same knowledge, it’s just done in a slightly different way, and there’s not that cool Spring Supplement to show at the end, which is a little bit of a bummer,” Ms. West said.
Eighth grader Claire Kettler is one of the students enrolled in the spring semester Yearbook class. She said, “For only part of the year we were able to work on the yearbook, which I thought was disappointing. And I was excited to continue working on it and exploring, like the behind the scenes of the yearbook, but it’s just a different experience.”
Even though the hard copy of the yearbook will not be distributed until next school year, students still had to meet the April 3 deadline. “We only had about a week of distance learning to finish the rest of the book,” said Ms. West. “It was a tricky transition because we normally save all of our files on the server at school, which can only be accessed when you’re at school. So I had to do some prep work and make a jump to saving everything on Adobe Creative Cloud. And there was an issue about how much storage I would have and whether I could house a book there, so I ended up only sharing a certain section of book of pages with the yearbook students, and they had to finish just those pages, and there were some pages that were left to me to finish up.”
The lost week of March 16 when students and teachers transitioned to distance learning created difficulties to get the yearbook finished. “It was definitely a challenge at the beginning,” eighth-grader Sara Kim said, “because we had to figure out how we were going to get the yearbook done in an efficient manner because it had to be done by April so that we could send it in.” Due to this shift, Ms. West said “there are a couple of sections that don’t have the same coverage that they would normally have. There’s a section that I added, because we had a couple pages we couldn’t fill, and then we have a spread that is dedicated to COVID-19 and students working from home.”
Kettler said that the alterations of this year’s yearbook are an asset and make it unique. “It’s going to be exciting to look back on the difference of this year’s yearbook, and the way it will shape up to be, compared to all the others. And since coronavirus has impacted us in so many ways, this can be one way to look at how the school year has changed.”