After we finished off the 2022 Haven Yearbook, our outgoing co-editor, a couple of our incoming co-editors, and our adviser wanted to share a few notes.
Jess Farhatt '23 + Jack Henry '23
When we came in on Tuesday June 21 to send out the book, when we sat down and started to look at what needed to be done, we realized it was not going to be done that day.
We sat in front of a computer screen from 10-8 fine tuning and making sure whatever we sent out was our best work. We then did the same thing the next day on Wednesday. We worked so hard because we wanted to get this out to press as soon as we could, and into the hands of the students.
Ideally we were aiming to be done by 1:30 pn Tuesday, but we soon realized that was not possible.
We began submitting pages on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:45 pm.
The experience as a whole was absolutely crazy. Even with bubble breaks and an absurd amount of candy we could not have gotten it done without help from our staff.
So many amazing people stopped in and helped us where they could. They listened to our panic, our crinkling candy wrappers, and our constant shushing trying to concentrate and finish pages. We could not be more grateful for those who came in during their summer vacation to help finish what we started back in September.
The cheers erupted when we submitted our final page, with confetti covering the screen and Taylor Swift playing on the speaker.
There was no better way to send the 2022 yearbook to press.
Kai Lincke '22
When I left the media lab on graduation day, I thought I was done with the yearbook. Though I knew that the underclassman staff would do an amazing job finishing the book, it was still incredibly hard for me to leave our banana squad.
When we checked in after senior week, Ms. Plows explained that the staff had worked as hard as they could to make our proposed deadline, but the yearbook still wasn’t finished. After some persuasion, she agreed to let seniors come back to help finish the yearbook.
I have never been so excited to walk into the media lab. I was elated to be back with the team, and to watch our new editors-in-chief lead us to the finish. The banana torch had been passed—this was their yearbook now, and I felt so lucky to come back and work with them.
When we arrived on Tuesday morning, we were determined and excited to finish the project. We hoped to submit the yearbook at 1:00, so we dove in and started working.
One of our most pressing tasks was finishing copy (writeups). We hoped to include copy and captions for every page, but there were still several copies that needed to be written or finished. We all pitched in to contact friends and acquaintances who could provide information and quotes for the stories. At one point, we had two or three interviews going on for different copies at the same time. It was AWESOME. After we finished the interviews, the room was silent except for the sounds of rapid typing and clicking.
We were so zoned in that we didn’t notice the hours passing. The day passed in a blur of Swedish fish (#fuel), banana stress foam, and jumping jacks (“guys, it helps wake the brain up!”). Everyone worked for hours straight with no complaints—which says a lot for Gen Z teenagers, who have an infamously short attention span.
We could see the finish in the distance, but just couldn’t make it to the end. Every time we thought we were getting close, we found another spread that needed to be filled or a page that was missing elements.
Eventually, we realized the yearbook wouldn’t be ready to send off at 1:00. A few hours later, we still weren’t comfortable with the state of the yearbook. The book needed to be submitted ASAP, but we decided it was worth taking another day to take our time and complete everything thoroughly.
When we returned on Wednesday morning, we knew we had to send off the yearbook. We invited staff to come in to help finish the book and send it off at 1:00. Throughout the day, many staff members floated in and out, helping design pages, collect interviews, write copy, tag people, select photos, develop new spreads, proof pages, and encourage other staff members. Several times, I stopped working and looked around the room in awe.
It was hard to believe that we are an extracurricular club composed of 14-18 year olds. Our staff worked together effortlessly. It was like we had our own language that only yearbookers would understand: “Guys, I think we just made it to 40% tagged!”; “Shoot! The copy is 450. I don’t think it’ll fit.” ; “Did you put the twos on all the pages? I think I’m missing the fish on prom.”
Our team carried on when we were all physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Driven by candy and passion for storytelling, we moved through each task with incredible efficiency. We took breaks for dance parties and Taylor Swift singalongs (good for morale and for clearing brain fog), but most of the time, we were focused. We were determined to finish this yearbook.
I think everyone could feel the urgency of completing this project. We were exhausted and ready to be done. We could have easily rushed to finish and submit what we had, but we knew we were documenting history. The 2021-22 school year is an incredible story, and we wanted to tell it right.
At 6:30, long after our goal sendoff time, we were starting to lose energy. Our staff numbers had dwindled, leaving just a few of us slumped in our seats and staring blankly at our computers when the night custodian arrived. He kindly told us that we needed to leave the building by 7:45—which left little more than an hour to finish everything. That was the push we needed to get back on track. We thought it was grind time before, but this was true grind time. We moved faster than ever to churn out pages and finish details.
In that last hour, we developed two of my favorite spreads in the yearbook. We dedicated two pages in the senior section to things that we regained this year—time in the classroom, athletics, performances, and senior events. Though these circumstances still weren’t “normal”, they gave us opportunities to reimagine connection with our community.
Working on these pages was stressful (it came down to the wire), but it helped to renew my gratitude for the experiences we regained and develop a new appreciation for my class’s incredible story. It felt rushed, but I think it was really cool that our team created meaningful content in such a limited time.
As the time winded down, we took turns clicking “submit” on each page (yes, all 240 pages have to be individually submitted). After I finished my pages, the incoming EICs let me turn in the last set of pages.
I was so tired that I don’t think I was processing what we were doing. With each page we submitted, we sent off a piece of work that was a year in the making.
With “22” by Taylor Swift blaring, staff members made the final edits as I clicked turn-in on each page. We all paused before the last page. I took a deep breath, waited for the beat to drop, and pressed submit.
But when we submitted, the legendary Josten’s fireworks (which are supposed to pop out as soon as the yearbook is turned in) weren’t there.
Nervous that something went wrong, I clicked around the website until finally, a big “CONGRATULATIONS!” banner popped up on screen with rainbow confetti erupting around it. We jumped up and down and gathered for a big group hug.
In that moment, a wave of emotions washed over me: relief, exhilaration, sadness, pride, and exhaustion. I couldn’t believe that we finally turned in our year-long project. It was surreal.
When I look back now, I am so proud of the product we submitted. I love looking through the yearbook because I know the story on each page, and the story behind it: the process it took to transition from a concept on our coverage list to a colorful spread with copy, captions, and photos. Some pages have dozens of contributors. These are my favorite pages because I can picture all of the hands that touched them, and recall the hours that we spent together trying to build the story.
Though I’ve also found some mistakes, I know that we poured our hearts and souls into this project. I think that our staff did an amazing job considering that the entire yearbook is created outside of curriculum-based class time; this yearbook was made during independent studies, lunch, fifth block, and after school. We gave this project everything we had in the time that we had.
What impressed me the most about submission week was that people came back. Our staff members took time out of their summer vacation to come into an empty school building and work. There’s nothing—no grade or compensation—that compels students to come to our yearbook club, in the school year, and most certainly during the summer. Our staff came back because they knew they were part of a project bigger than themselves. They are part of a community, a family, and a team working to tell the story of this unprecedented year.
Our yearbook family cheered our teammates on all year and kept each other going during the race to the finish. Though I missed a week of work sessions after graduation, I can envision the team sharing candy and encouragement as they powered through pages. During our two ten-hour work days, we kept each other going by taking dance breaks, blowing bubbles, and sharing snacks. Just being together was encouraging. It’s a really cool feeling to know that other people are working towards the same goal, sharing the same passion, and putting in the same hours that you are. We kept showing up, for the publication and for each other, and gave each other a reason to keep working. We built this team in just one year, and now I can’t imagine life at Haven without it.
At the end of the process, so many students can look at our yearbook and identify their work. Students were involved at every stage, from the planning and layout to the photos and copy. Our staff invested so much time and love into documenting this year and telling our school’s story. We couldn’t have done it without our adviser Ms. Plows, who guided us, encouraged us and worked alongside us through every step of the way. We are so grateful that she helped us to become more involved and invested in the yearbook so that it can truly reflect our student experience. Now more than ever, this is a student-driven publication.
Haven Yearbook is an incredibly special community. Our banana squad (yearbook staff) are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I feel so lucky to have worked with them and gotten to know them this year. I know that they will continue to do great things and use storytelling to make our Haven community—and world—a better place. Banana squad, thank you for your dedication and enthusiasm. You made my senior year a year 2 remember, and I’m so grateful I got to take this journey with you.
We did it, suckers.
After 27 months as a pandemic-era high school teacher, and 27 months COVID-free, I finally tested positive for the virus on the weekend before finals and two weeks before our final yearbook deadline.
I’d done most things right over the last two years. Learned to teach remotely from home, then in an empty classroom, then to half of my students at home and half of them in front of me at the same time, then back to a full classroom community with a vaccination rate that got stuck somewhere around 70 percent when the online dashboard came to a halt.
Got the vaccine and boosters as soon as it was possible. Wore the recommended masks, shifting as the recommendations changed from cloth—journalism- and photography-themed ones that my mother lovingly stitched—to KN-95s that worried friends dropped off at my home.
Only in the last couple of months had I started to breathe mostly-unfiltered classroom air again. Still, I wearily switched my donated HEPA filter on each day before I lit the string lights and the lamps.
Most teachers use the word “tired” in the first sentence of collegial conversation these days, but it wasn’t until the virus hit that I admitted to myself how tired I really was.
The administration allowed me to waive the “final” for my photography and video classes. Of course, we had no pencil-and-paper final exams. I’d been planning to evaluate my students on how well they could manipulate manual camera settings to capture the splashing of water balloons. This was not something I could ask a sub to handle. (I’m not sure there were many subs left, as the groups of students in the auditorium for each block of the day seemed larger as the days ticked closer to the end of the school year.)
So, once granted a reprieve from finals, I sent emails to students and parents, posted the cancellation to our LMS, and kept my email open to answer questions— all as my fever climbed and my vertigo grew. I drank hot tea to quell both the symptoms and my anxiety about how I was going to get the yearbook done by our deadline while feeling this awful.
And then, all that was left—all that could possibly be left—was to set my away message, burrow under my weighted blanket, and disappear from the world for a few days.
I’m sure it was my symptoms that made me so tired. I ran a 102+ fever for a couple of days, and my throat felt like it was on fire.
I’m also sure that it was more than my symptoms.
By the end of this school year, there was nothing left in my cup. Nothing left to pour out in support of others, nothing left of the enthusiasm-mask that is part of my daily wardrobe, just… nothing. There had been too many pivots, too many impossible situations, and to describe all of this would take more energy than I have in mid-July. It has all already been written, anyhow, by news outlets and by other teachers in long edu-content posts and Twitter threads (and some edu-content based on Twitter threads). If it hasn’t been written, it’s been said in hushed voices in hallways or louder voices in meetings.
But I still had to keep refilling that cup from a faucet of nothing, because that is what teaching demands. You always have to be ready to support others, even when you’re propping yourself upright with caffeine, ibuprofen, and necessity.
We tried working together on Zoom. The students were earnest and worried. They signed out the studio cameras, finished coverage of the school year, and kept their say-do ratios high as I asked them to chase down the leftover copy and captions. But after more than a year of Zoom classes, the platform left all of us feeling tired and distracted. We would need a real in-person team to get the job done.
So, one week after my positive test, still feeling exhausted and congested, I was back in my classroom to coach our yearbook editors through deadline.
I did not feel fully recovered—still don’t, even though it’s now midsummer. Yet, according to our COVID guidelines, I was allowed to be back after five days of isolation. Maybe even expected to be back, as my fever was gone and I was nearly out of sick days. I made sure I was stocked up on KN-95s and cough drops, and resolved to do all my coaching from as much distance as I could.
The school year had effectively ended—all that was left was a day for make-up finals, and a few days required for teachers. So when the students bounced into my classroom in their bright-yellow yearbook t-shirts, it was miraculous to see this energy. “You’re back!” they exclaimed. “What’s first?”
There were no grades to earn—never were, our book is a club program for now. I didn’t have the time, health, or personal budget to transform the deadline crunch into the sort of celebrations that I see other yearbook advisers share on social media. The students knew that I had just barely recovered enough to show up.
And yet, they arrived—eager, curious, a little nervous about our capacity to finish, and ready to work.
And they stayed—for a total of 23 hours over three days of their summer.
At one point, an editor decided that a copy submission just wasn’t good enough—so she juggled three recent graduates on the phone at once for some better interviews.
At another point, an editor reconsidered the photography on a page—so he went back to edit another few albums of photos.
While they had been hesitant to design pages from scratch before, now they were flying through the process of adding photos, copy, and captions to the unfinished pages.
One student’s family donated pizzas. Another showed up with huge bags of candy. Another brought fruit and leftover baked goods from her graduation party.
“What do you think of this?” “How do I do this?” “Can you take a look at this?” The questions were almost in percussive rhythm as we worked—directed to each other more often than to their ailing coach. They were probably just trying to shield me. But setting the conditions for them to coach and cheer on each other had been the goal all year long.
“That page SLAYS,” shouted one editor as she fist-bumped another student.
When my last classes walked out of my classroom this year, I felt exhausted from COVID and burned out from teaching. By the time the student editors clicked ‘submit’ on page 240 of our brave little club yearbook, the lingering symptoms of COVID left me ready to sleep for a few days—but my energy for teaching was back.
I’ve felt this energy around student journalism before. But I don’t think that I’ve spent enough time examining why it feels so different from the side of teaching that left me feeling so empty at the end of this school year. These comparisons are swirling in my brain this summer as it emerges from virus-fog. I have some ideas that are all over the map, and some provocations that might transfer the energy to my day-to-day.
These ideas are how I’m going to form some words again. Buckle up.