Madrono staff finishes yearbook despite pandemic

Malia Wanderer and Amy Yu

Graphic: Arundhati Parikh

While students had the option to partake in their school work during the first three weeks of social distancing, home-bound staffers of Madrono, Palo Alto High School’s yearbook publication, grinded through their pages to complete and deliver a pivotal keepsake to students.  

The Madrono staff has been contacting people for features, brainstorming ideas to fill spreads and going the extra mile to create the best possible product while practicing social distancing in the months following the closure. According to junior Editor-in-Chief Allison Ye, the staff’s ability to communicate despite the distance made the process of completing the book easier.

Of course we can’t talk face-to-face anymore, but I don’t see it as a problem because everyone messages a lot,” Ye said. “We had several Zoom meetings in the beginning when planning the work ahead but simply communicating online has been enough.”

According to Madrono adviser Brian Wilson, the staff decided that yearbooks will be delivered directly to students houses after considering every option. 

“We have decided that this year’s book will be mailed directly to your homes at no additional cost to you,” Wilson stated in a Schoology update to Paly students. “Tentatively, yearbooks are set to ship on or around June 20.”

In March, Adobe announced that it would provide access to Adobe Creative Suite to all students at home who attended schools with bulk licenses until May 31. 

According to sophomore Photographer Eva Mankos, the staff capitalized on the access by using InDesign, the layout design application used to organize the yearbook, to work remotely. Mankos said the staff encountered challenges that proved the importance of communication.

“[The] main challenges [were] dealing with issues remotely and with minimal contact with all of the staff,” Mankos stated in a text message. “[Other] challenges [were] due dates and coordination on that.”

The Madrono staff had to come up with ideas to fill the chronological section of the book since the year was cut short, Ye said. 

This illustration for Best Dancer is an example of work done for the Madrono yearbook’s senior superlative spread. Junior Photo Editor Emma Wu worked with a team of student artists from Palo Alto High School to illustrate portraits for senior superlatives, since the staff was not able to get pictures of the winning seniors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illustration: Emma Wu

“In our chronological section, every week of school up until the final deadline is covered in its own spread,” Ye stated. “The last four spreads [were] converted into a COVID-19 section, discussing how the virus is affecting both Paly students and the world.”

One spread that faced challenges was the senior superlatives section, according to junior Photo Editor Emma Wu.  

“We were not able to take the senior superlatives [photos] prior to school closings,” Wu stated in a text message. “After a lot of meetings and some feedback we decided to have the winners send in reference photos and have a team of artists draw them instead. We think it’s a super cool concept, and, hopefully, it’ll look good too.”

According to Wilson, the staff has done outstanding work during these unprecedented times.

“The yearbook staff has [done] an amazing job under really difficult circumstances,” Wilson stated in an email. “They [have been] in constant communication about pages and have been collaborating as best they can.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding next year, the staff hopes to carry their momentum forward, according to Ye.

We don’t have specific plans for next school year yet, but since a large portion of our staff is returning, I’d assume that we’d be able to continue what we’ve been doing,” Ye said. 

Yearbooks can still be purchased at the Paly Webstore until June 8.