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Creating a high school yearbook in the pandemic

Otay Ranch High School yearbook students are getting creative and feeling the pressure of building a yearbook when campus life is off-campus.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Open your yearbook and it’s a walk down memory lane of homecomings, class pictures, signatures, spirit days and future predictions. Now there’s a new chapter for high school yearbooks during the pandemic.

High school yearbook staff across the country are adapting to pandemic yearbooks and Otay Ranch High School is no different.

There’s no campus life on campus this year so students are getting creative in building a yearbook that will be one for the history books.

“This is a unique book that these kids are only going to have. It's almost like a collector's item,” said Dan Kray, ORHS Yearbook advisor.

He says many want to turn the page on the 2020/2021 school year, but says this is a chapter that should not be skipped.

“It's really important that even though it won't look the same, the feel of it, the importance of it. And the significance of a book during a pandemic and to get it done,” said Kray.

The state and national award winning yearbook staff at ORHS feel the challenges of a pandemic yearbook where no one is on campus or cheering from the Blue Zone. Instead, students are using social media to reach classmates to submit their at-home senior picture, spirit day or Halloween costumes.

“I would say there's a lot of pressure on us, because I know people are going to expect a book, so we have to kind of figure out how we're going to do it,” said Isabella Valdez, editor-in-chief, ORHS senior.

Another editor-in-chief and senior, Sarah Hoh, says some pages will be dedicated to the pandemic lifestyle such as showing off custom masks, student workspaces and new hobbies like cooking.

“We've come up with spread sections like things we've been doing during quarantine like home workouts sine we can't really go out that much,” said Hoh.

Valdez says the hardest part is creating virtual bonds especially when she doesn’t know half of her senior class and not all students are responsive.

“I just want to make sure I include, all of our students so they can look back at how our year was,” said Valdez.

The students want to make sure that during a year when so much has been taken away from students their senior memories are not forgotten. 

“We want to give the seniors at least one thing, which is the yearbook, and we want to make it good for them,” said Hoh.

With so many things changing such as sports returning to schools, the ORHS yearbook deadline has been pushed so yearbooks will be delivered in the summer.

Do you have your high school yearbook? Take a pic and share your class picture or something you like from your yearbook on News 8's Abbie Alford's Facebook page