Yearbook pushes on despite COVID-19

Leggett: ‘[The school] deserves a yearbook’

The 2019-2020 yearbook is complete and is planned for release by the end of this school year, despite the changes that the school closure and social distancing has caused it.

On March 30, the yearbook was completed and submitted to Jostens, the publishing company.
From there, the hope is that Jostens’ Tennessee plant will be able to print the hundreds of copies needed for this year’s edition, which are planned to arrive on May 13th. As of now, yearbook adviser Kathleen Leggett is working with administration to ensure all students who purchased a yearbook will receive one. Although things are running smoothly now, the process to achieve this final product proved to be a difficult one.

“It’s been tough, I can tell you,” Leggett said. “We had an English department meeting, and I broke down …”

Leggett paused for a moment and tears glistened in her eyes.

“But it was shocking trying to figure out how to get this yearbook out to press — which we will — but without 30 students making the spreads [due to COVID-19].”

The “Senior Bests” spread was still under construction when school shut down. The yearbook staff planned to take photos of the winners in person, but due to the circumstances, decided to reach out to them through social media instead. Senior Alyssa Flamm was the leader of this project.

“Since school is cancelled, it’s been much harder to get in contact with people and get their picture, so I’m really relying on Instagram to help me,” Flamm wrote to the Talon. “I’ve just been DMing the people who won, and most of them have gotten back to me pretty quickly.”

This year’s edition will have four new pages that address the closure of Oak Park High School. These pages will highlight what students have been doing to stay busy during quarantine. All students were encouraged to submit photos of their activities to the yearbook Twitter and Instagram accounts. In addition, yearbook students were assigned to take three to five pictures for the spread.

“It can be things like watching Netflix, reading books, or going for walks outside to stay active. I think it’s a really good idea to kind of unite Oak Park right now, since none of us can see each other and talk in person,” Flamm wrote. “Seeing what everyone is doing while at their house is relatable since we are all in the same situation.”

This spread, according to junior and yearbook staff member Olivia Turner, shows people that happiness still exists during quarantine.

“I think that the yearbook, and especially Mrs. Leggett, always takes the negative experiences, such as the fires, and makes it a positive experience,” junior Olivia Turner wrote. “She [Leggett] also does so much because of how much she cares and she is really kind to everyone in our class.”

For Leggett, this yearbook is more than just a record of each school year: it’s her passion.

“This is what I care about. This is my baby,” Leggett said. “These seniors, as well as the entire school, deserve a yearbook.”

Leggett is optimistic about the future of the 2019-2020 yearbook, and believes that it will get published.

“I am so proud and grateful for all the additional support I’ve received. I can’t thank everyone enough,” Leggett said. “I can’t wait until I can get that yearbook into everybody’s hands!”