According to a press release, “the National Yearbook Program of Excellence recognizes engaging yearbooks that reflect a broad representation of the student body while helping students develop 21st-century skills such as communication, collaboration, and information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy. The award was presented to the Sewickley Academy yearbook program for achieving the defined criteria in each of the three following categories: creating an inclusive yearbook, generating school engagement, and successfully managing the yearbook creation process.”
This year’s theme is Redefine Sewickley Academy 2020. “We came up with the theme last summer while brainstorming a list of random ideas. We originally thought of redefining what Sewickley Academy means to us, and the dictionary idea came a little bit later when we were thinking about how to tie the theme to the cover and the layout of the book,” Ellie Zack, one of the editors-in-chief, explained.
On average, the three editors-in-chief, Ellie, Zoe Luther, and Haley Nocito, each spent approximately 10 hours per week creating spreads, photographing events, or proofing pages. “Publishing a yearbook is a daunting task that requires continual effort and time throughout the entire year. When we had upcoming deadlines, we would often spend upwards of five to six hours in a single night perfecting each spread,” Zoe recalled.
The yearbook process takes nearly 10 months to complete beginning in June for the upcoming school year. That’s when the editors, along with Yearbook Advisor and Director of Communications Kaitlin Busch, come up with decisions on the theme, colors, fonts, layout, and cover design, and the final deadline is always in March, before the Academy’s spring break. Similarly to last year, the team challenged themselves to include at least four pictures of each student in the book this year.
“My favorite parts of being an editor this year were creating a final product that we are very proud of and getting to know my fellow editors and class members,” Ellie shared. “I am going to be an editor again next year, but I think it is important to remember that as hectic as the process seems sometimes, it always ends up coming together at the end to create a great final product.”
Zoe echoed Ellie’s thoughts, “One of the most rewarding elements of Yearbook is feeling connected to the campus and the community. We have a reason to attend events and visit classes all across divisions, so we see first-hand the daily lives of students outside of our normal circles. When you walk around with a camera and a Yearbook Press Pass, you have an excuse to be a part of any event.”
“This award came as a surprise to us. It really means a lot considering it was the first year as Editors-in-Chief for all three of us. Our staff worked very hard this year, and I think this award is a reflection of all of the hard work and dedication that was put into the process,” Ellie said. Zoe agreed, stating, “We had no expectations of winning an award for our work this year. The yearbook process was never about accolades or a grade; rather, it was always about producing a book that captures the essence of the year on campus and can be cherished for years to come.”
“When I learned that Sewickley Academy won the National Yearbook Program of Excellence Award for the second year in a row, I was in awe. The yearbook staff worked incredibly hard this year and pushed their way through several challenges to win this award. This is a huge honor, as only 12 schools in the state received this recognition. Although we were unable to be presented the award in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we did celebrate on Zoom and hope to celebrate in-person later in the year,” Miss Busch shared. “I am so proud of this year's staff. My three editors-in-chief started brainstorming this year's Kaleidoscope last June, and their leadership, dedication, and vision led to the production of a high-quality book as well as national recognition.”
This year was the first year that the yearbook was offered as a class in the Senior School versus a voluntary club. “The seven students – Zoe, Haley, Ellie, Brooke, Kathryn, Mary Grace, and Naomi - laid the groundwork for the class, putting in hours of work inside and outside of the classroom to ‘redefine’ Sewickley Academy. The yearbook staff has set the bar even higher for next year, and I look forward to helping the incoming staff to meet our new standard of excellence,” Miss Busch said.
Congratulations, yearbook team!