We’re close to the end of the year, and yearbook editors are preparing to pass the torch. In the latest episode of the Ask Mike podcast, host Mike Taylor, CJE, chatted with Yvette Garcia and Gabbie Leighton, the soon-to-graduate yearbook editors at Patricia E. Paetow High School in Katy, Texas.
Both editors have been on yearbook staff since seventh grade, and they call each other their best friend. They, along with adviser Sara Gonzales, have helped create a supportive yearbook environment that allows their staff to thrive.
Knowing that both editors place a priority on their mental health, Taylor asked them how they deal with the stress that comes along with yearbook – especially near deadline time.
“Mostly we just talk to each other and with Ms. Gonzales,” Garcia said. “We sometimes just destress talking about random stuff, or we’ll talk about yearbook but not stress too much.”
Garcia added that she and Leighton support each other. Leighton chimed in about their weekly appointments when they go out to eat.
This was Paetow High School’s first year to print their yearbook with Walsworth. They attended an Elite Weekend over the summer.
“That really helped us get a perspective of where we’re supposed to be,” Garcia said.
“The assistance we got, from talking to other people who could help us with story writing and design and stuff like that,” Leighton added. “It was so amazing to get perspective on things we could change and work on. We learned so much.”
They brought a sophomore to Elite Weekend hoping she’ll step into a leadership position once Garcia and Leighton graduate.
The Paetow High School yearbook staff uses a system where the editors teach their fellow staffers about yearbook.
Garcia said they learn a lot of their role as they go. “When we learn something new, we make sure that they get an understanding of what that is and how we’re doing things,” she said. “I think an important thing for our staff and every staff is teamwork. We like to make sure that they understand that it’s not always easy, but they’re always willing to come to us. And I hope that’s something our next editors implement when they take the lead.”
Garcia and Leighton write notes – especially those for commonly made mistakes and spacing errors – on a whiteboard the entire staff can glance at. They also made posters at the beginning of the year with instructions for frequently used procedures and inspirational quotes.
Paving the Way and Finding Inspiration
Many members of Leighton and Garcia’s staff joined this year, so the editors taught a lot.
“We love them so much. And I can tell that in the next few years, when they’re in our shoes, they’re going to do such great things. And they’re going to continue the legacy we’re leaving,” Garcia said.
The editors get design inspiration from several places. They go to Behance, buy magazines at a workshop that they keep in the classroom and look at the college brochures their seniors receive. They also look on social media to find designs they like.
“What we do a lot of is I’ll send a picture, [Yvette] will send a picture, Miss G. will send a picture,” Leighton said.
“And we’ll be like oh! I like that, I like that,” Garcia followed up.
They also help their staff by creating modules and templates. Designers can use them, but the editors encourage designers to change them as they see fit.
“It’s really just to give them a baseline idea,” Garcia said. “We like to just let them be creative and see whatever they can come up with to tweak it and make it more interesting.”
Words of Wisdom
When asked to share some of what they’ve learned while doing yearbook, Leighton stressed the importance of having a good relationship with your staff and creating a supportive yearbook environment.
“I think if you don’t have your moments where you’re able to bond and you’re able to create a connection with your staff, you’re going to have difficulties when it comes to the work that’s being produced,” she said. “People are going to give you stuff that is halfway done because they’re afraid to ask questions. Or they’re afraid to reach out and say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ And I feel like being able to be close with your staff gives them the opportunity to ask for help when they need it.”
Leighton added that supporting each other is number one among their staff.
“Not everybody is having the best time, because it is high school. High school is stressful, And there are a lot of things that come into play with your life outside of high school. So we try to be there for each other no matter what.”
Their adviser, Ms. Gonzales, appreciates the support system among their staff.
“It’s not like all the weight is just on me as an adviser. Because that’s not how it should be. It should be a student publication,” she said.
Want to know more about the yearbook staff at Paetow High School? You can listen to the Ask Mike podcast as Taylor interviews Leighton and Garcia at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts or search for Ask Mike wherever you listen to podcasts, such as Apple Music or Spotify. Be sure to follow @paetowpress on Instagram to keep up with the latest from their yearbook program.