“I Was Here” Redefined – Dominican Yearbook Class Rises to Challenges During Pandemic

[3/25 11:08 AM] Shannon Hauler

Yearbook Club 2019-2020, please send me (or post here) pictures of you doing schoolwork at home! We want to include these in the yearbook! Miss you! Hope you are doing well!

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[4/13 10:19 AM] Shannon Hauler

Pub 1 YB Period 2, good morning, ladies. Ms. Casey Lefante and I have re-evaluated the remaining pages for fourth quarter and, working with administration, have come up with the following. I will need seniors to sign up for one spread each. Juniors will have to sign up for two spreads (two of you may need to work together….I think I’m listing 14 pages, not 15). Please respond to this post with your page requests, and I will take care of assigning them. I am using today to catch up on yearbook work. I know I have a lot to do; I had to take care of my 8th graders first. Please let me know if you have questions. *Also, I realize that I will have to get a lot of these pictures for you and fix them in Photoshop and upload them. Be patient with me. If you see a specific picture that you want, let me know. And don’t feel bad if you have to let me know more than once. I won’t be offended/upset. You know I forget things (smile)

1. 4th Quarter Division – Elise Landrum (this is your assigned layout)

2. Home Learning – leave room for a reflection

3. Home Learning – we want to include videos of the band/choir students working from home – Lefante and I will take care of getting these videos

4. Digital Spirit Week and Black and Gold Day

5. Faculty Builds community

6. Students Build community

7. Building Community from afar (include posts from Library)

8. End of the year activities (we’re thinking pics of students returning books, cleaning out lockers, teachers checking out…not sure when/how we’ll get these, but it’s a goal)

9. StuCo Elections

10. Academic and Athletic Honors (recognizing those students who would have been recognized at academic honor day and if there are any Lou Reilly awards we haven’t covered – not sure)

11. Senior Activities – senior superlatives and whatever else we do – Mia Nguyen

12. The metro area during this time – Lefante and I will drive around and get pictures of what life is like right now. You are not driving around doing this (we don’t want you to put yourself at risk of anything)

13. DHS timeline of how Dominican responded to other crises – we’re thinking of talking to Sr. Savio and getting info on what DHS was like during/after Katrina, WWII, etc. If we are able to get back into school in June to get pictures, we will. If not….who’s a talented artist who could draw sketches? Casey Lefante, please remind me of what we meant by numbers 5, 6, and 7…I’m drawing a blank. Ladies, please post your page requests and I’ll assign them. Thank you! Miss you!

Welcome to the yearbook class at St. Mary’s Dominican High School where they connect with each other and their teacher via Microsoft Teams. It is part of the school’s home distance learning experience that began on March 20 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Across the country, schools transitioned from the classroom setting to homes where students and faculty engage on-line in this new environment.

The yearbook’s theme, “I Was Here,” has brought new meaning and challenges to the class that includes seniors and juniors. Last August, by the second day of the 2019-2020 school term, the book’s design and theme was selected. “I Was Here” would chronicle the school year in classes, clubs, Mass, community service, and athletic events. The recent school campus closure meant no opportunity to photograph a school day’s moment in the classroom or lunchroom, at a club meeting or a sports event in Siena Gym. Spring term activities and events have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

“The pressing challenges were how do you capture the fourth quarter of the school term when school is closed,” notes Shannon Hauler who is in her 11th year as the yearbook lead moderator. In addition to teaching the yearbook class, she also teaches English to 8th Graders. Yearbook club co-moderator is colleague Casey Lefante who teaches 8th Grade English and Advanced Placement English. Due to home distance learning, work by the Yearbook Club was shifted to the yearbook class.

Hauler has high praise for the class that quickly stepped up to the task of documenting the final months of school that are filled with events that include the annual musical and fine arts festival, election of Student Council officers and class representatives for next year’s school term, countdown days for seniors, and graduation.

“They have done a phenomenal job of stepping up. Immediately they were reaching out to students and teachers, asking them to send photos from their homes,” she says. “What has changed is our approach in completing the book and making sure we have an accurate representation of as many students as possible. We are still Dominican. That part is our identity and has not changed.”

“I am proud of all the work they have done. They have come together and understand the importance of completing the yearbook. June 16th is their deadline to finish the book,” notes Hauler.

Pages are being adapted to reflect the current means of communications: photos from digital Spirit Week will become a spread. Seniors’ countdown will feature photos sent by members of the Class of 2020. The yearbook students send photos to Hauler who edits them in Photoshop and posts to the yearbook wall. During the week, the class online discussion ebbs and flows as editorial content and layout evolve.

“Each yearbook tells its own story,” observes Hauler. “I believe this yearbook will be much like the ones at schools impacted the year of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The stories those yearbooks told were ones that have lasting impact. Our yearbook will be one of those.”

In the yearbook class at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, seniors Chloe Candies and Mia Nguyen collaborate with junior Aria Dody via Microsoft Teams on page layouts for the school’s 2019-2020 yearbook.