A Pandemic Couldn’t Stop Quarry Lane’s Yearbook Team

Since that fateful day we received an email from Quarry Lane administration that our school would follow quarantine procedure, many of the events and traditions that characterize our campus culture have faded into obscurity. Pep rallies have all but disappeared, the tug-of-war challenges and relay races morphed into distant memories. Sports games were cancelled for a great part of the past few semesters, turning bleacher-side bravado into mere nostalgia. From school dances to ethnic celebrations, so many of the special occasions that make Quarry Lane memorable have been stifled due to the coronavirus. As we shuttle from one Zoom call to the next — our connection to our teachers and peers reduced to the flicker of our webcams — it would be easy to assume that our school’s 2020-2021 yearbooks would lay bare.

However, after months of preparation and extensive editing, our school’s yearbook team has proven that we can capture the Cougar spirit without the perks of in-person education. We can make memories — and safely. The 2020-2021 yearbook is an ode to both the toils and triumphs of a pandemic-hit year, from the delightful burst in online clubs to the first-ever virtual Open House events. This year’s yearbook is filled with mementos to a rather unique point in our lives, and is certainly a bang for your buck. To learn more about the hard work that went into creating this year’s yearbook, I had a chance to speak with QLS junior Alexa Mazoros, one of the yearbook team’s student editors.

K: What motivated you to be a part of creating this year’s yearbook? 

A: I enrolled in Yearbook last year thinking it would be a fun elective to take. Now my second year of this class with the additional role as one of the co-editors accompanies a lot more responsibility. Having a role and being involved in the entire process like designing the cover, choosing colors, and establishing a theme was very new to me but a super exciting experience. Last year being able to know all the handwork that each page required and seeing my work in person was very rewarding. This year, our yearbook was a way to have a little bit of normalcy, to capture all the good things that happened, and have a way to record even the hardships that happened in the school and world. 

K: What were some challenges you both faced trying to create this year’s yearbook amid a pandemic?

A: Every year has challenges and stress factors that are constantly going on. We can prepare all summer to establish a foundation, but we are simultaneously creating pages about events that are happening at the same time. This always causes some challenges to receive pictures quickly and create pictures to be able to finish the book by a certain deadline. Although this year came with our usual challenges times two. Without the direct communication to students at school make it very difficult to ask for quotes or pictures. Being in person allows our yearbook team to take pictures ourselves from events which couldn’t happen this year. Many events couldn’t happen this year, causing us to have to broaden and create new spread ideas like a Pet Page or having the athletic pages include athlete profiles. 

K:What are your thoughts on Zoom photos, or some of the group pictures that were taken using Gallery mode? Do you think that the virtual photography session had some hidden benefits? 

A: Zoom photos are definitely not the best quality pictures, especially compared to what we can usually take by our talented photographers like Ms. Cynthia or Eric. On the contrary, they did help to serve as group pictures in the current situation. As it was an easy way to still include “group pictures” for clubs or classes. Another strategy we used was to create pages that could focus on student life, which can be easily photographed by students at home. There were difficulties of trying to get students to participate but the people who did submitted very good pictures. Even though we had never made a yearbook this way, some hidden benefits were the result of us creating new pages that we can keep in the yearbook for years to come. Finally, knowing we can still create a great yearbook in a difficult time like this we can face any issue in the future. 

K: Why do you think yearbooks are important? Amid the pandemic, do you think that the need for high school memorabilia grows more important, since we can’t connect with one another in person?

A: Personally, I have always loved my collection of yearbooks that started in pre-school, as it is a time capsule to watch me grow up. There are also many memories that come from the books; school functions/student life pictures that we can commemorate and be able to remember any time we open them. An added benefit is that we are a smaller school allowing us to include almost or every student, so everyone can find memories of themselves and friends in the yearbooks. When looking at my parents’ old yearbooks, it is so cool to be able to see what it was like and how much changed over time, and our yearbooks in twenty or thirty years will do the same. Amid the pandemic, the yearbook is always an avenue to connect all the students together, and this year especially. Our pages include a lot more on learning about students’ family, pets, memories, and friends. This is a way to still get to know each other and connect in our situation through the book. 

K: What is your advice for other club members at QLS who are attempting to successfully turn their club into a virtual activity that’s enjoyable and accessible for everyone involved?

A: As one of the editors and students in this class, I have seen how it is a different experience in this virtual setting but having a very welcoming environment is the most important. In yearbook especially, Ms. Cynthia asks us many questions and has us talk about our opinions to have discussions about certain decisions. Every class I am in is different, but universal advise to any other clubs is to have open discussions that everyone can join in on. Furthermore, to use this time to better get to know and connect with everyone so we can still make memories and be able to be even stronger in person next year. 

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