By Heather Janssen

FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — In a school year as unique as this one, with distance learning and no school activities on campus, how do students fill a yearbook? Students are tasked with getting ultra-creative to still create something their classmates can cherish forever.

“This is a very memorable year,” said Mindy Yu, a Fairfield teacher. She advises and teaches yearbook students at Vanden High School.

Yu sits in an empty classroom each day and meets with her yearbook students on Zoom.

“I know it’s a struggle for everyone right now,” Halie Havens-Teska said, one of Yu’s students and a Vanden senior. She’s working on putting together the most unique yearbook the school may ever create.

Instead of capturing on-campus activities, Havens-Teska and senior Angelika Anchinges said students will be the main focus. That means highlighting their peers and their hopes for the future on a more individual and personal basis to fill a 200-page book.

“We haven’t really been able to take many photos ourselves,” Anchinges said.

Their yearbook will likely consist of photos sent in by their fellow students, as their classes are still online. School ID pictures haven’t happened yet and leaving them to get creative. They’ve asked students to snap selfies, and pick the one they believe is picture-perfect to fill the pages.

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“Kids will look back at this year and realize they put a lot of effort into this book,” Havens-Teska said. “As much as us.”

Hundreds of schools are stuck in the same dilemma. But other districts, like Twin Rivers, have turned to new technology to host a virtual picture day. The district worked with Excel Photographers to have parents take their students’ photos at home through a website, and send them off to Excel for edit, or to retake.

Malissa Knieriem is both a parent and the general manager at Excel Photography. Her company, she said, has been extremely hard hit during the pandemic with so many kids not on campus this year.

She’s hoping this virtual transition, using High-5 ID, transforms the negatives of a pandemic school year./

“Being able to provide that memory for parents is just really important,” Knieriem said. “Parents are just doing their best.”

‘Doing our best,’ as many people are in this trying year.

“There was still a lot of moments when there was good,” said Yu, hoping some people still have something positive to hold onto when it’s all said and done.

2020 has had enough events to fill a book, even if it’s done a little differently this year.

Heather Janssen