Yearbook Gets Interactive

As the school year winds down, students' work has sped up on finalizing the annual yearbook. However, the 2021 tome will not be your traditional walk down memory lane, all scrapbook-style collages and portrait photos. The past school year, after all, wasn't a typical year.

"We are in a once-in-a-century pandemic, so our book definitely reflects the challenges faced during this time, but it also shows the ingenuity of individuals and our community," said Yearbook Advisor and Science Teacher Peter Federico.

Expanding upon last year's inclusion of a handful of QR codes on a page, the 2020-2021 Brooks School yearbook — that will be published over the summer — incorporates codes throughout the book, linking to a variety of curated, multimedia content including Spotify playlists, social media, activities videos and footage from clubs on campus submitted by fellow students, as well as video of athletics games and campus ceremonies.

"This year it is especially important to try to connect people as much as possible," said yearbook club member Jack O'Brien '22. "And including these interactive elements will help show how we came together."

Fellow member Preston Wong '23, who will be the yearbook editor next year, agreed. "Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional idea of a yearbook, but adding these new elements makes the yearbook more engaging and fun to read," he said. "This book has many memories attached to it, so why not portray it in sound-plus-video form?"

To make it all possible, Mario Yang '21 worked with Director of Technology Ryan Dobbins on creating a Brooks server, where multimedia content can be stored for decades. "This allows us to have more dynamic content be incorporated into the book," explained Federico. "It gives new life to the idea of the typical yearbook that only contains still images and text. Our world is increasingly dominated by moving images and the book reflects that trend."

Nicole Li '21, for one, loves the idea of incorporating video because "videos can really capture the moments of the year," she said. "It definitely adds a lot to the yearbook, like being able to hear the performances, see the games in action, hear the Chapel speeches, and so on."

The other benefit of video content, added Haley Duran '21, is that it doesn't take up a lot of physical space. "It gives the Brooks community a way to look back on more memories than can fit on a single page," she said.

Changing things up — and during a time when school was changing the way it functioned due to the pandemic, no less — wasn't without its challenges, though. "This year there was a learning period that should be acknowledged," admitted Duran. "With all the restrictions and rules, the team had to develop a new way to go about this yearbook and what to include."

The 10 staff members relied on Google forms to gather content, QR codes to share surveys with classmates and an Instagram account to keep everyone in the loop.

"This year was very different because we relied on the Brooks community for photo submissions," said Li. "I hope that they see pictures they took included in the yearbook. The yearbook was put together by the whole Brooks community. I'm grateful to those who've helped us in this process. I also hope that students can see the hard work that the yearbook staff members put into making this book possible."

It was, of course, work that they enjoyed. "Being able to capture the happiest and most fun moments in my peers' high school journey in pictures and collect them in one book for all to see is what I've most appreciated," said Duran. "I hope they'll be happy to see their faces, and their friends' faces, and all the words they wrote about what they did and felt during this period of time."

Duran sure will be. "It's a nice feeling," she added, "to be able to know that you'll always have the memories stored away somewhere to look back on and reflect upon."

Follow Brooks School on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see all the activities, projects and happenings in our community each day during the school year.


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