The Sentinal: Emphasizing Diversity and Culture for Gwynn Park High School’s Yearbook
By LaShunda Nugent, Yearbook Advisor at Gwynn Park High School
I’m fortunate to wear many hats at Gwynn Park High School, some of which include: 10th and 11th grade English teacher, English Department Chair, social media manager and yearbook sponsor. Since high school, I’ve been passionate about yearbook creation and now that I have my own class of students interested in yearbook, it’s an opportunity to show them all that the book can represent. Further, I’ve always been interested in graphic design, so getting involved in the yearbook was an easy decision for me!
In my role as an educator, placing a focus on diversity is so important, and there are myriad opportunities within a school system to make that happen. Teaching diversity opens students’ eyes to a variety of cultural and social groups, right in their own community. In the past, our school’s yearbook has put an emphasis on mainly highlighting seniors and their achievements. Showcasing seniors’ memories before they graduate is a common practice for many schools, but in my role as yearbook advisor, I want to help redefine the yearbook and remind our students no matter their grade, involvement in extracurricular activities, etc., there is still room for them to shine within the pages!
Using the yearbook-making tool TreeRing has allowed the yearbook class to further showcase all students at Gwynn Park High School—not just seniors. In previous years, there wasn’t a lot of excitement around yearbook creation or how inclusive it could actually be. It’s been exciting to shift the culture at the school to remind everyone that the book is for every student and every staff member. Instilling the importance of diversity is so important, and the yearbook is one way to make inclusion a reality. For this year’s yearbook class in particular, we’ve instilled the mindset of “everyone is going to be in the book.”
This year’s design will represent the school’s unity and highlight how we’re all experiencing a new normal—everything new and different—due to the impact of the pandemic. The book will include our newer students’ experiences (freshman and sophomores) as well as the changes from the junior and seniors’ and even staff members’ perspectives on returning to the in-person classroom setting after the sudden departure from the school building. The hope is that the inclusion of everyone’s common experiences in the book will bring forth a sense of togetherness within the school’s community.