U-Highlights staff determined to finish yearbook remotely


Screenshot provided by Claire Duncan

Editors-in-chief Claire Duncan, Stanley Shapiro and Marisa McGehee collaborate through Zoom on May 7 to work on a spread for the 2020 yearbook.

Madeline Welch, Opinion Editor

Like every spring, the U-Highlights yearbook staff members are hard at work completing dozens of pages for the yearbook that will be delivered at the end of summer. The twist this year, is that they are completing it using online tools such as Zoom rather than meeting in person, and instead of using the more powerful school computers, students have been using their own laptops at home. 

“The biggest change is how we do our edits. Doing edits online has been hard because it’s a lot of sending PDFs back and forth, when we used to be able to write on (paper) spreads,” said senior Claire Duncan, one of three editors-in-chief of the 2020 U-Highlights.

Jayna Rumble, U-Highlights adviser, expressed how proud she was of the yearbook staff continuing to put in hard work to the yearbook, despite the transition to remote learning. 

“Remote learning isn’t ideal for finishing a 250-page book about the school year, but I’ve been really impressed with how the students have stepped into this new role and have adapted to our strange situation,” Ms. Rumble said via messaging app about the book that will be U-High’s biggest ever.

Due to many events being impacted by the stay-at-home order, the yearbook staff has had to get creative with their coverage. Fortunately, in the last week of school, photojournalism students worked quickly to take as many photos as they could before the school closure. 

While photographers captured some activities, other activities ended abruptly.

“It won’t look like past yearbooks because photo options are limited for sports and other spreads, but we are using photos we took before school let out along with photos people are taking in their home,” said senior Stanley Shapiro, another editor-in-chief, via Messenger. “For events that are canceled or taking place in an unconventional way, we are still providing coverage, just in a slightly different way than before.” 

In place of the events that were canceled, the yearbook staff is dedicating a section to covering the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the U-High community.

“The yearbook editors added pages to the book and changed the ladder around, so we could add a six-spread section about COVID-19 and how students are experiencing the pandemic,” Ms. Rumble said. 

Editors changed the book to include stories focusing on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on individuals that were written by students in Beginning Journalism.

“We want people to look back at this book and remember what life was like,” Claire said. “This is what we are actually going through and it’s an honest representation of what is happening. It’s really important to tell these real stories.”

We want people to look back at this book and remember what life was like.”

— Claire Duncan

Ms. Rumble said that while she hopes to distribute like normal in the fall, she is uncertain how the staff will end up doing it.

“Though we’re on track currently to meet our deadlines, our publishing company has had to close all of its printing facilities except one plant in Tennessee,” Ms. Rumble said. “Whenever we do receive the books, we will follow any guidelines about social distancing that still exist, and we will work with administration to come up with a safe way to distribute books to students.”