Student editors met on Zoom and asked fellow students to contribute to Dos Pueblos’ yearbook.
Student editors routinely met on Zoom and asked fellow students to help fill pages of Dos Pueblos’ yearbook. (Courtesy photo)

The Dos Pueblos High School yearbook editors spent 14 hours on a Zoom video conferencing meeting one day and spent hours using online communication, so the yearbook staff page in the 300-plus page book is designed to look like a Zoom call.

It’s just one of the many adjustments amid the coronavirus pandemic, and students worked hard to provide a lasting record of the 2019-20 school year.

“It was a difficult journey, but I don’t think I would trade it for anything in the world,” said senior Nora Kelly, the yearbook editor in chief. “It’s nice to see my team come together, and we wanted to give this book to our community.”

Students submitted the yearbook Tuesday and hope to receive it by early June. 

The book is expected to be distributed to more than 1,100 people.

Like the rest of the schools in Santa Barbara County and California, DPHS in Goleta stopped in-person classes and will remain closed through the end of the academic year. 

While others were winding down, the student-led yearbook staff continued on the 2020 edition of “The Image.”

Students didn’t know last month would be the final time they would set foot on their campus this school year.

Almost one-third of the yearbook, including the index, needed to be finished when students had the final day of campus-based instruction.

Yearbook page celebrating the 2019-20 staff on Zoom.

Yearbook page celebrating the 2019-20 staff on Zoom. (Courtesy photo)

Kelly, 17,  and her best friend, Kelly Gilmore, a senior and the yearbook copy editor, scrambled to figure out what to do. 

Various spring sport matches and special events like prom were canceled or postponed as a result of COVID-19, all gatherings traditionally featured in the book. 

There were about 13 spreads — 26 pages — of sports “that wouldn’t be filled in and the rest of the year we were going to cover,” Kelly said. “We had a few stories we were able to get started on before the sports season got fully cut, and got a few angles down.”

Around their classroom, sticky notes are used to jot down content ideas.

Students brainstormed ways to document keepsake memories.

“We started ripping sticky notes off and tried to come up with new ideas,” Kelly said. “As the days progressed, we started to realize this is unreasonable for how many pages we needed to fill up.”

Yearbook staff were determined to fill every page with fresh content and ensure the school year is covered. 

“Everyone takes pride in their work,” Kelly said. “We didn’t want to leave any pages blank.”

With the coronavirus affecting daily life, students needed some assistance in putting the final touches on the yearbook. 

Kelly reached out to the Dos Pueblos community for content about activities and experiences from home to be displayed in the book.

In a letter, she wrote about how “this year has been more than what’s going on right now — even though that’s hard to see, and yearbook has been there the entire time to be able to cover that for everyone,” Kelly said. “For our final push, we would need our community’s help.”

Staffers asked peers to send content that showed what people are doing stuck at home, personal experiences and how they are keeping busy during the coronavirus outbreak.

The community stepped up to help, and people submitted information and photographs capturing moments with their family, staying active and how coronavirus has impacted them.

“A lot of people have done interesting things,” Kelly said. “We got that content submitted to us, and we also filled up two pages about life right now — with COVID-19.”

Kelly said she received “close to 100 submissions with a lot of different stories from everyone.”

The yearbook’s theme is “What it was like.”

“I wanted it to feel like this is what people have been experiencing,” said Kelly, who also helped create three past DPHS yearbooks. “Not just their school lives, but their personal lives — the big events and small things you might forget.

“Fifty years from now, you would be able to see that book on the shelf, and if someone asked you, ‘What was your high school like?’ You would pull the yearbook off, and say, ‘This is what it was like,’” Kelly said.

High school yearbooks preserve a history that will last forever.

“Years from now, you are not going to remember everything or everyone,” Kelly said. “If you buy the book, it’s a way to keep that around with you forever.” 

Kelly said her yearbook staff of around 30 have been “amazing.” The freshman and sophomores were committed to their work from home, and Kelly described them as “some of the most dedicated students.”

Some learners needed up-to-date desktop and laptop computers to finish the yearbook.

Kelly said teacher John Dent delivered the electronic devices to his students’ homes after DPHS closed.

“He brought computers to people who didn’t have access,” Kelly said. “They would now be able to work.”

The Dos Pueblos’ yearbook is an award-winning publication.

Students gain exposure to all aspects of technology with software, cameras, computers, forms, surveys, design tools and drones, Dent said.

For students, the DPHS yearbook provides valuable work experience of deadlines, marketing, sales, budgets, customer service and daily interaction with strangers, Dent said.

Students obtain professional experience as a journalist, learning about copyright, interviews, ethical and legal deliberations, and decision-making skills that impact the future of the program, Dent said.

“The students in DP yearbook aren’t in the program just to cover themselves or their friends, but to cover the entire student body,” Dent said in an email. “They work hard to do this and feel badly if someone is missed.

“They give up their nights, weekends, holidays and even summer vacations so this book can be the best possible coverage of the year,” he continued.

Dent said this year’s yearbook staff “pushed and pushed and kept collecting more coverage of the students and the community because, despite all the challenges, they have developed that passion and drive to never give up.” 

DPHS yearbook staff face another unique challenge in the wake of coronavirus.

Book distribution remains a question.

“This year is still up in the air, but we will do as much as we can within the safety guidelines to make the experience special for our students because after all this, they deserve it,” Dent said.

Yearbook distribution is a special event at DPHS, Dent said.

In previous years, a calligraphy art teacher would write their names beautifully in their yearbooks, and there was music, food, and more, Dent said.

“We plan the experience for weeks and have developed a unique (Disney-esque) experience where they go through the theater and see highlights and previews of the book, then pick up their wrapped book (like a present) from the yearbook staff, in their special occasion team shirts, who are so excited to share it with them,” he said.

This year’s yearbook senior staff also includes Paola de la Cruz, Leann Rubalcava and Ava Gutow.

“My students are heroes for their school and I’m lucky enough to be on the sidelines as they capture a powerful record of the history of the school,” Dent said. “The DP community is lucky to have these dedicated students doing all this work for them.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.