Yearbook Survives Covid


Whether it is through photography, digital illustration, or simply hanging out in her room at lunch, many students know graphics teacher Helene McKelvey-McLaughlin. What some people may not know about “McKelvey” is that she now teaches Digital Publishing which is the class responsible for designing and publishing the yearbook each year.

McKelvey took over being the adviser of the yearbook during the 2019-2020 school year. The previous yearbook adviser was English teacher Tom White who, after 28 years of being the adviser, decided it was time not step away from the position.  

“I loved the class, it was a great change to interact with seniors in a non traditional class setting,” said Mr. White when asked if he missed teaching the class, “but I thought it was a better fit for McKelvey because it had become more of a graphics project and she has all the talent to do it right.”  Although he said he occasionally helps McKelvey when she needs it, Mr. White says he enjoys teaching his English classes and not having to worry about every event going on at the school, as he did as yearbook adviser.   

Mr. White had been adviser for so long he said there were no computers when he started. Every picture was a hard copy and he would go at the end of each deadline to Fed Ex with a box of 70 or so page envelopes of materials to be shipped to the publishing plant in Texas pages to be developed into the book. As years went on, technology developed and the class that we now know as Digital Illustration moved from a journalism class in the English department to its rightful place.

When asked why McKelvey chose to take on this role, she admitted that it was mainly because she wanted to be part of capturing a memory for kids in the school. She enjoys being a part of their senior year and creating something they can look back on to see what their high school years were like.

As we all know, the 2019-2020 school year was when Covid hit. When Covid shut down schools with three to four months of the year left, McKelvey knew that there would have to be obvious changes and big challenges. In the year with virtual and hybrid school,  the biggest challenge she faced was getting students to submit pictures of any kind to be used in the book.  Mr. White expressed his guilt about the bad luck of McKelvey’s first year being the year school would unexpectedly shut down and throw the yearbook into disarray:  “I felt so bad that a project as challenging and huge as yearbook had to get even harder, before she even had a year’s experience.” 

“There was one student, Xavier Beltran, who was really my hero that first school year.” said McKelvey. “Everyone did their part but he really rose to the occasion and surprised me.” In the 2021 book, covering a year of virtual and hybrid school, the biggest challenge she faced was getting students to submit pictures of any kind to be used in the book. She says she took the blame for errors, missing pages, and more due to the struggles that Covid brought. Being the kind-hearted person she is, she “did not want to put the burden or more stress on students because it was a stressful and crazy year already and I didn’t know what people had going on at home.” 

In the 2019-2020 yearbook, the spring sports pages had to be omitted because the sports did not occur. Instead, the yearbook staff “took the seniors from the spring sports and did a spread to tell them to hang in there and give them the recognition they deserved”  since they did not get their final season with VHS. Despite the ups and downs, McKelvey is ecstatic to be the supervisor of the yearbook for many years to come.

This year is her third book that she will be publishing and the most “normal” year for the book that she has experienced so far. With school being fully in person this year, McKelvey is excited to see what this year’s Shadows staff has in store for the yearbook. The biggest challenge she believes they will face is getting pictures due to photographer shortages because of Covid. However, she is confident in her “amazing staff and their ability to complete what is going to be an amazing yearbook.”