Spring sports.




Such pages are set aside for those events in high school yearbooks starting in September.

What to do with those pages when the events don't happen -- or at least, don't happen the way they usually do and when schools aren't even open? That's a question the yearbook staffs at all four Olentangy high schools have had to answer in recent weeks.

"I always say there are things that yearbook teaches. This year, it's teaching how to deal with things when they don't go as planned," Olentangy Liberty High School yearbook adviser Rebecca Granata said.

"I was worried at first when they closed the schools, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how our staff has adapted on the fly," Olentangy Orange High School yearbook adviser Kari Phillips said.

"Our students care so much," Olentangy High School yearbook adviser Jessica Roads said. "This is a legacy, the yearbook. We want it to be the best it can be."

Videoconferences, text updates, gathering of submitted photos -- all are the norm for yearbook staffs this year. Students and teachers have had to navigate this while also juggling remote learning, stay-at-home orders and, for many, especially seniors, grieving the lost memories due to state orders as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"The yearbook is going to come out this fall," said senior Payton Kaufman, co-editor of the Orange yearbook. "We've had to push past some of those feelings and work to produce the best yearbook we can."

Editor Kylie Roberts, a senior, said the Olentangy yearbook staff members knew they wanted to make the publication special.

"We're definitely hurting, with the year having kind of been taken from us," she said. "We decided to focus the parts of the book we were losing on the seniors."

"Once we found out we wouldn't be able to fill all of our spring pages, staff made the decision to keep all of those pages and dedicate them to seniors," said Erin Bush, yearbook adviser at Olentangy Berlin High School. "This was to be the first class of seniors to graduate from Berlin, so we are doing a lot of Q&As, features and interviews with seniors from our spring sports and just the whole class."

Students discovered they didn't want to cut pages from their yearbook, even though it meant tough decisions and hard work to find alternative ways to fill them.

"We wanted to make sure we covered this time the way we normally would," Berlin yearbook editor Madison Vondersaar said. "Even though we're not at school, this is still part of the year. We decided to add two spreads about online learning. We've added things like a German recipe someone cooked while they were at home or a workout they've done at home."

Kaufman said students' creativity came through when they were asked to submit photos for the annual senior superlative recognition at Orange.

"We normally announce senior superlatives at the senior breakfast, but this year, it was done on Twitter," she said. "So we asked students to send us pictures, and it actually turned out so much better than we anticipated. Some of them used funny props, and so we have some images that we wouldn't have had if we'd taken photos at the breakfast."

"Our Spirit Week was virtual, with lots of pictures, so we were able to use some of those," Bush said.

Staffs have decided it's impossible to ignore COVID-19's impact on the school year, opting to include news reports on its global impact of the pandemic, as well as interviews and other content about how the changes have altered the lives of students and their families.

"It's a historic moment," Roberts said.

"It's hard, but a yearbook is a document that students are going to look back at and remember. We felt we had to try and capture what this time was like," Vondersaar said.

"We talk about seeing the yearbook as a historical document and that (staff members) are historians for this school year," Roads said. "Anything you want to remember 30, 40 years down the road we should make sure to include."

Amid the consternation over deadlines and altered coverage plans, Granata's staff also has tackled the inclusion of augmented reality content in this year's book.

"It's funny because the students know more about some of the technology than I do," Granata said. "But our yearbook company has an app (Blippar) that allows you, if you download the app and hover your phone over a picture, to view enhanced content like a video or a slideshow of additional photos."

Coltin Gatts led the AR team at Olentangy Liberty.

"We hit a few road bumps along the way, but we'd usually find a way around any tech issues," he said, adding that the AR content is intended to work alongside traditional yearbook content to "capture the spirit of Liberty."

Gatts said his team is hoping to include some surprises in the AR, as well.

"I am going to try my best to jam this book with as much AR as I can before the deadline arrives," he said.