(click photos to enlarge and read captions)
A Day in the Life
The class bell rings and is followed by eight minutes of desk time for school-wide announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance, and then class announcements and to-dos. After that, students are set loose to what Ms. Yvette Manculich, the yearbook adviser, calls the “controlled chaos” of compiling and editing The Prowl, Powell Middle School’s award-winning yearbook. Some students check out cameras and leave the classroom, seeking specific students for photographs to go with their interviews. Others immediately log in to computers on the lab side of the classroom to work on “body copy” (the text that appears throughout the yearbook--captions, interviews, and stories). The 58-student yearbook staff are working under a strict deadline: their entire book has to be finished by March 15. After that deadline, the staff is busy putting together the eighth grade slideshow for the annual continuation ceremony as well as submitting pieces of the yearbook and narratives to publishers in the scholastic realm of journalism for various competitions. They also work on a theme project, brainstorming taglines and visuals for the design of the next year’s publication.
The energy of the yearbook staff and their adviser is palpable. Throughout the class period, Ms. Manculich can be heard saying things like, “Thou shalt NOT cut off feet!” when advising one pair on what to look for in the photos they’re including in their spread. A few minutes later, on the other side of the room: “This layout is gonna GO, Kevin!”
“They’re a really great group of kids,” Ms. Manculich says. She brings out an impressive two-page spread on the presidential election; it would rival any professional publication in terms of layout, content, and unbiased ideological representation. “Look at the journalistic integrity. Can you believe it? They’re 13 years old.” Pride and awe fill her words.
Covid-19 has obviously had an impact on yearbook operations this year. Using Google breakout rooms and their Chromebooks, the staff was able to compile and submit over 50 pages while learning remotely. Other yearbook staffs throughout the state submitted as few as two pages for the same deadline. Now that students are back at school in a hybrid learning model, there are more logistical challenges to work through. Computer keyboards are covered in plastic. Cohorts of students are helping peers in other cohorts to get interviews and photos, depending on who is doing in-person learning at the same time as the student being interviewed or photographed. They’re relying more heavily on submissions from families: photos, stories, and information for full-page profile spreads. There’s a concerted effort to make sure as many students as possible are in the book in one way or another. “If you want to use this photo, you must interview the girls who are not already in other spreads,” Ms. Manculich tells students who were pitching an idea to her, and she has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly who has already been featured in a specific spread. It’s not hard to understand why she’s the JEA H.L. Hall Distinguished Yearbook Adviser of the Year and the Colorado Student Media Association Adviser of the Year.
Anatomy of Success
Yearbook is an eighth grade elective, and there are two full sections. Most students come to the class knowing very little about media and journalism, but within a few weeks, they are designing layouts and collaborating on themes.
They use the Otter ap, which has a transcription feature, for interviews. They work with Photoshop and Adobe In Design, the magazine publication industry standard. They compile an award-winning yearbook that rivals publications created by older, more experienced students. The Prowl staff takes pride in their work, they are held accountable to deadlines, and they have the autonomy and trust of their adviser to get the work done. It’s working.
The Prowl Staff
Ms. Yvette Manculich, adviser
Anna Jane “AJ” Geddes
Abbygail “Abby” Pelle
Nicolas “Nico” Pullas
Daniela Saldana Gordillo