As teachers and students faced the adjustment to distance learning from home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, a group of La Jolla High School students struggled to complete an essential task: the yearbook.
Carole LeCren, the yearbook adviser for the class, said panic set in during first period March 13, when she learned the school would be closing to in-person classes. The final yearbook deadline was April 6, preceded by spring break, leaving the class two weeks to finish.
“Normally, that time is ... crazy,” LeCren said. “Usually I’d run around, asking students to interview this or get that. It’s an all-hands-on-deck two weeks of digging in.”
But this year, that hectic time was compounded by the school’s closure.
“By yearbook class, which is Period 6, I’d made a list of missing pictures for spring sports, but the sports were then canceled,” LeCren said.
She spent the next few weeks at home finishing the yearbook with her students’ help via email.
“They had to edit and write online,” LeCren said. Though the group works online in class, “this time they didn’t have pictures to work with or interviews.”
Jennifer Aguilar, a La Jolla High senior and member of the yearbook class, said finishing the book from home was stressful.
“It was hard not having [LeCren] there, not being able to interview a person one on one,” she said. “We had to use email or Instagram.”
Aguilar, a club section editor who helped other sections where needed, “looked over all the pages after I edited them to see what I missed,” LeCren said. “She loves looking for the details.”
“[LeCren] and I reached 100 emails,” Aguilar said. “We were trying to make everything work to meet the April 6 deadline. The deadline was so close, and I was scared we weren’t going to make it.”
LeCren said completing the book was made more difficult because many blank pages had been saved for events that didn’t happen.
“Some of the spring sports didn’t have any home games before [the closing],” she said.
She turned to the community for help. “We did an e-blast asking for anyone who had photos to send them in,” she said. “I got so many track photos from that.”
Other pages were filled with coronavirus-related content.
“One of the events for our Student Life feature, Air Band, was canceled,” LeCren said. “I turned it into a COVID-19 page and asked for photos of what students did at home. Parents sent photos of students reading in blankets, an outdoor golf putting green and more.”
Yearbook signing pages also became COVID-19 pages, as there would be no signing events this year.
LeCren likened this year’s crisis to 2007, when area wildfires “shut school down for a week right before our first big deadline in November. That was just a week, and that really set us behind, but this, amazingly, was more than that.”
This year’s race against deadline was won, LeCren said.
“But the irony is now it can’t be delivered because the school is shut down,” she said.
The 850 yearbooks will be delivered late, on June 10, and LeCren is waiting to hear how they will be distributed.
In the meantime, Aguilar said she’s proud of the yearbook class. As for finishing the book via email from home, she said: “It was unexpected, but I’ll remember that it happened in my senior year. This is historic.”◆