QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — Danica Clarke knows she will always remember many of the details of a senior year truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she’s working hard to make sure that others don’t forget.

Clarke is editor in chief of the Quincy High School yearbook staff which is working from home to document what’s definitely been an unforgettable year.

Once-a-week Zoom classes and a weekly check-in help keep page production on track for the 2020 Quippi, set for delivery this fall, and discuss ways to fill pages intended to feature activities and events canceled by the pandemic.

“We’ve always had a plan,” Clarke said. “We’ll make it work.”

Yearbook staff typically work into June putting finishing touches on pages, and this year will be no exception.

“They are doing the best they can with what they have,” QHS teacher and yearbook advisor Stacie Niffen said. “They’re doing an important job. We talk a lot about tradition, feeling the weight of what you’re doing and producing this keepsake. They’re really rising to this challenge.”

The 10-member staff have access at home to the same software they’d use at school to design pages incorporating text, photos and cutlines.

“We start with finding pictures, so we know who to interview. We write interview questions and do interviews,” said Clarke, who checks every page before turning them over to Niffen.

“For me it’s a struggle to try to get everything done without being able to talk to people in person and not have a lot of contact with other students. We contact them, and we’ll never hear from them,” student Paige Schumacher said.

Niffen said, “The setting is different. Their ability to reach out and physically be with students they want to make contact with is different, but the actual production side is very similar to what they’d be doing in the classroom.”

This week’s class had Niffen going over a checklist on spring sports pages.

“We’re good with softball. We’ll be good with soccer. Track is a hurdle for us. We don’t know how to get coverage of those things when events are not happening, but we’re trying to plan for alternate coverage, anything to make those students still feel represented given our limitations,” she said before turning to other topics. “How goes band? We have to get that wrapped up by Friday. We need to keep it moving.”

Lauren Erke reported on the Key Club page. Olivia Vahle said the band story was almost done with just a couple more captions to finish, while Clarke added that student-led club pages will be finished by Friday.

But Niffen got no response when asking about progress on pages for school clubs, making that topic a top priority.

“We’ll have to pick up the pace, start double-dipping on pages to get finished in a timely fashion,” she said. “It might be a benefit for you to look forward a little bit, reaching out and getting contacts now, working through pictures to see if you have enough.”

At the same time, class discussions also focus on ethics, credibility and eliminating bias — key tenets of journalism.

“They learn so many life skills by being in journalism — time management, leadership, how to work with others, how to provide feed to other people in a polite and respectful manner, how to accept criticism,” Niffen said. “A lot of my kids get into it because they enjoy photography. This has given them the technical skills they need, and it’s also trying to stoke that fire, that passion, because photography is a hobby you can continue for a lifetime.”

The book’s theme, decided at yearbook camp last summer well ahead of the pandemic, is history, with an emphasis on the “story” within the history of the year.

“We want to make sure everybody’s voice is heard in our book,” Clarke said. “Not just athletes. Not just music, but people who struggled. If they’re willing to share stories, we want to put it in the book.”

Part of the year’s story will be the pandemic from photos of students spending quality time with pets during the stay-at-home mandate to a time line of coronavirus events and copy talking about the toilet paper shortage.

“We asked four different students of four different grades to write a letter as if they were writing it to the virus about how it’s affected them,” Clarke said.

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Source: The Quincy Herald Whig, https://bit.ly/355EGjC