The Anthem Has Been Revised…
What has changed and what has remained the same in the Anthem...and the top-secret new additions to the 2019-2020 yearbook
October 21, 2019
Every year, fifth period at Beckman is blocked off for Yearbook, and, every day, students shuffle into Room 214 to greet Cheyne Blair, the advisor. This year, the yearbook staff has an especially difficult task to produce a book for the class of 2020, which is significantly larger than previous classes.
Along with extending the senior pages to fill a larger graduating class, the Anthem has also planned to increase student involvement with the yearbook. The class’s Instagram (@bhs_anthem), now at over five hundred followers, recently has been sharing more updates on yearbook activities like club photos, photo requests for the book and the senior photos.
One of the most noticeable additions to the Anthem Instagram is story polls. Questions feature topics ranging from students’ favorite superpowers and pizza preferences to their morning routines and preferred school days (minimum or late-start days). “We are incorporating more fun and silly questions in the book,” said Bryan Takenaka, one of the only junior Editors-in-Chief in Anthem history. “We try to make them relatable to everyone in school, so lots of them are everyday opinion questions.” The poll results are one of the many new features of the yearbook. They will be featured through sidebars and infographics throughout the book to better connect students with the book.
Editor Jessica Ark is primarily responsible for the revamping of the Instagram. Although the Instagram account may seem brand new to the untrained eye, it has been around for a while. “We’ve had it for years,” said senior Ark. Before this year, however, the account was completely under the radar. Then, Ark joined the other editors and spent hours making Instagram story templates, promoting the account with the Associated Student Body (ASB) and gaining hundreds of followers in the span of a couple of weeks. “The account is not new – it just wasn’t as connected to the student body,” she said. And, this year, the editors have changed that.
But, the revamped Instagram is not the only major change to the Anthem. According to editors, there have been top-secret new additions to the yearbook. “I can’t specify, unfortunately, but we have added multiple new pages,” said Takenaka. “We are rearranging a few things from past years to spice things up a bit.”
Do not be fooled by Takenaka’s generalities – the new changes cannot be downplayed. There is a reason for all the social media promotions, the polls and the engagement with the student body. “The changes are secret for a reason,” said Mr. Blair, unwavering. “We are always trying to find topics and subjects that are relevant and of interest. We’ll leave it at that.” The additions have something to do with student involvement, meaning the surveys, polls and photo submissions on Instagram and ReplayIt, a photo-sharing application designed as a digital yearbook. The best way to directly interact and influence the publication of the yearbook, thus, is to stay involved both on social media and on campus.
One of the ways the Anthem is increasing direct student involvement with the yearbook is by including deeper features on Beckman clubs. “We are giving more clubs an opportunity to be featured in the yearbook besides just having their club photo,” said the Editor-in-Chief. In past years, the books did not focus too much on club activities and events, but now, the Anthem is looking to go in-depth with interviews to get a better sense of the clubs on campus.
Not only are there new additions to the book but also many new additions to the class. And, this year, many of the freshmen and new staff have surprised editors with their dedication. Freshman Ava Pieter, a newly recruited member, has committed a lot of time into her work. As a part-time photographer, Pieter attends school events – for example, recently, the Tustin Tiller Day Parade – to take photos and “capture the Beckman spirit.” However, Pieter does not just lug around her camera around campus. She is also in charge of a few pages in the yearbook (called spreads) and must interview and write like other staff members.
“My work as a photographer is time-consuming,” Pieter admits. “I try to use any extra time at the events to squeeze in homework. I sometimes struggle to fit it all in – it’s a constant balancing act!” And Pieter’s hard work pays off. Even though she is not an editor, the effort she has put into her photography and spreads has produced many photos and much content that will find themselves in the finished book at the end of the year.
However, many Beckman students are unaware of the effort put into the publication of the yearbook every year. “It’s easy to look at the yearbook and dismiss it as just pictures,” said Mr. Blair, “but that, to me, is a great disservice to the effort the staff puts in.”
For one, Takenaka has put in an immense amount of time even before the school year in preparation for the 2019-2020 yearbook. His job as the Editor-in-Chief began last year when he led the process in developing a theme for the book (which, unfortunately, is also confidential). From then until the start of the new school year, Takenaka looked through dozens of yearbooks and magazines for inspiration, drafted and designed templates for the book and planned out how the class would run.
Now, less than six months away from the final deadline to send the manuscript to printing, Takenaka is creating the templates, managing the class and advertising the product throughout the school. “It can be overwhelming, but I’m glad I chose a strong editorial staff to help me organize everything.”
Previously, he had been a regular editor. The transition from editor to Editor-in-Chief was, admittedly, quite drastic. Takenaka needed to take on a much larger responsibility for the yearbook and the class. “I was introduced to so many new things as chief like getting in contact with other school programs, planning out colors, materials and fonts for the book and making decisions for the class structure,” the junior said. Even though the Editors-in-Chief are usually seniors, Takenaka has taken on the role without hesitation.
Luckily, Yearbook staff in the past have seen their hard work pay off. Unbeknownst to most of the school, the Anthem has entered and won many awards from international and national competitions including the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA). Both associations bring in professional journalists and journalism professors who evaluate entries from hundreds of schools. The Anthem has won the Silver Medalist Certificate every year from 2012 to 2016 and again in 2018 from CSPA, an international student journalist association that hosts annual competitions. The Anthem has also won First and Second Class in NSPA in past years, a national association for high school publications. Regardless of the awards, the yearbook is meant to showcase the pictures throughout the year, but the design, stories, topics and effort are all equally well-deserving of appreciation as well.
But, most importantly, the group dynamic of the class continues to foster a friendly, encouraging environment like in previous years. The editors – seniors Essie Domingo, Natalie Chan and Jessica Ark as well as junior Ahmed Rashid and sophomore Samantha Fedewa – are all close friends. Their friendships do not close them off to the rest of the class, however. “The editors are more open with their groups,” said Ark. “There are strong bonds between grade levels, and it’s not closed off.”
Freshman Pieter agrees. “Many are returning students, but they do a fantastic job of making the freshmen and new members feel welcome,” she said. Despite the stress that comes from the race to meet a deadline, the staff members always try to keep calm, keeping in mind that the entire process is a team effort, that everyone is working toward the common goal of producing a comprehensive, end-of-the-year publication for all of Beckman.