Prairie High School students, staff work to complete a year(book) like no other

Teacher Leah Zika and her students managed to complete the remaining content in just a few hours

Prairie High School teacher Leah Zika always keeps a watchful eye on the myriad deadlines that she and her students face as they work to complete the school’s yearbook. Not only does the project require hard work and vigilance to get the book completed in time for the end of school, but the yearbook publisher also imposes penalties for missed deadlines, so there’s a lot of pressure to stay on target. 

Battle Ground High School is completing its yearbook with photo submissions from students showing how they're spending their time during the school closure. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools
Battle Ground High School is completing its yearbook with photo submissions from students showing how they’re spending their time during the school closure. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground Public Schools

As the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis was becoming increasingly apparent in early March, Zika had a hunch that she and the 17 students in her yearbook class had better start making plans to complete the final 36 pages of the 248-page book even earlier than their deadlines required. 

“We were starting to worry that the COVID-19 outbreak was going to shut down schools, so we were throwing around ideas in class for how we could complete the project on short notice if we had to,” Zika said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to get this done as soon as possible’? We came up with some ideas, and immediately after we made our plan, the announcement came over the loudspeaker that our schools would be shutting down indefinitely. We just looked at one another in shock for a few seconds, and then got to work!” 

That day, Zika and her students managed to complete the remaining content in just a few hours. Under normal circumstances, the group might have spent several weeks completing the same amount of work.

“There’s always the problem of meeting deadlines, but at least you know they’re there,” said PHS senior and co-lead yearbook editor Maggie Munoz. “While we missed out on the opportunity to make the best possible version of the yearbook, we all worked really hard to make it the best we could under the circumstances, and we should all be proud of that.”

At Battle Ground High School, the yearbook class is still pulling together to put the finishing touches on the yearbook. Teacher Ryan Karraker and his students have requested submissions from students to showcase what they’re doing while learning remotely. They have received photos from students who have made facemasks or taken advantage of the warm spring weather to do yard work or other outdoor activities.

“While it’s always going to be a process and a learning curve to get the yearbooks completed, this year has required a lot of creativity and a willingness from students to learn on the fly,” Karraker said. “So much content that we were relying on, like spring sports and the TOLO dance, were no longer options, and we had to move forward and figure out ways to persevere. I’m proud of my students and excited to share the results.”

The students completing the yearbooks are learning many skills that can be applied to their future academic and professional careers. The classes are set up to teach traditional desktop publishing, and students learn everything from stylistic design approaches and photography to publishing procedures and even legal issues surrounding sharing stories and pictures. Students can also develop leadership and project management skills, as many students (like Munoz) take the class for multiple years and eventually become editors.

“Being able to work hands-on is typically what is most needed to be successful with this project,” Zika said. “This year has been difficult for students in so many ways, but they have shown tremendous maturity and ingenuity to work around the roadblocks that have been placed in front of them.”

Yearbooks at BGHS and PHS are available to order now through each school’s ASB office. Please visit bghs.battlegroundps.org/ or phs.battlegroundps.org/ for information about placing your order. The logistics of how the completed yearbooks will be delivered is forthcoming, so stay tuned. 

Information provided by Battle Ground Public Schools.

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