The high school yearbook, Sojourner, released at the end of the school year, documents the events, activities and students of the school year. Founded in 1960, the publication was originally named Gateway. Covers courtesy of Sojourner.
The high school yearbook, Sojourner, released at the end of the school year, documents the events, activities and students of the school year. Founded in 1960, the publication was originally named “Gateway.” Covers courtesy of Sojourner.
Zoe Karibian and Inez Stephenson

Capturing memories: A dive into the High School’s yearbook

“There’s just nothing quite like it, as far as the depth of learning that happens when you’re really engaged in a creative project like this,” Yearbook Adviser Lina Densley said.

Since taking on her role in 2022, Densley has advised the High School yearbook in documenting the school year.

Densley said the name of the yearbook, “Sojourner” comes from the school being a place that consistently changes and evolves.

“Part of the reason that the title of the book is ‘Sojourner’ is because we’re a school of movement and motion,” Densley said. “People come and go and some stay for life and others move on … we’re all on a journey.”

Attraction to yearbook

For Deputy Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Ines Caillaux Diaz (’24), the yearbook has allowed her to discover unique aspects about individuals.

“I…really love the journalistic side of it, Caillaux Diaz said. “A lot of the time our student life spreads are very unique and will have interesting questions or like fun facts about people, so I’ve been able to find out about people that I might not have spoken to otherwise.”

Additionally, 2024-25 Co-Deputy Editor-in-Chief Georgina Angus (’26) said she found her home in the yearbook after experiencing the supportive community working on spreads in Grade 9.

“That was where I really felt like I was a part of the community because I got to know everyone who was on yearbook,” Angus said. “I felt like I could definitely be a part of it and I just felt like I fit in, so that’s where I kind of fell in love with it.”

Rose Davis (’27) said she decided to continue yearbook in high school after having enjoyed working on the middle school yearbook.

“Last year, I just chose it because it’s like a really creative class where you have lots of freedom and it just seemed fun,” Davis said.

Co-Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Gabi Dawson (’24) said she began her yearbook journey in Grade 8. Dawson then took the Introduction to Publication Design class in her first semester of Grade 9 year, where she said she found herself frequently helping out the Grade 12 editors.

“The senior editors kept needing my help for finding freshmen voice and knowing who to interview and who to take photos of,” Dawson said. “Of course, I was super eager to help because I really wanted to join next year, so I would spend a lot of time answering their questions.”

Due to the support Dawson gave the yearbook in her first semester, the editors proposed the idea of freshmen joining the yearbook class. Historically, the class had exclusively been open to sophomores, but their proposal worked, and Dawson joined the yearbook class as the only freshman in the second semester — something that was “never done before.”

Now, it is typical for one or two freshmen to jump directly from the Grade 8 yearbook class to the High School yearbook class without completing the semester-long Introduction to Publication Design prerequisite.

Class dynamic

Angus said the yearbook team has developed an “amazing dynamic,” which she hopes to further as deputy editor-in-chief.

“We’re so communicative with each other and we’re able to talk to each other about anything,” Angus said. “If we need help, we’re there for each other and definitely as deputy editor-in-chief I’m gonna try and be there for everyone whenever they need me.”

Densley also said having a strong editorial staff is key to ensuring an inclusive atmosphere that allows students to fully engage with the class.

“Yearbook tends to attract kids that are not as competitive,” Densely said. “I mean, there are some kids that are competitive, but we also get kids that maybe are a little quieter and wouldn’t be the loudest voice in the room, so seeing them step out of their shell and really thrive with their creativity is really, really cool.”

As one of the only two Grade 9 students working on the yearbook, Davis said she was initially anxious about the class dynamic having less experience than others.

“I was definitely nervous at first,” Davis said. “But everyone’s been really, really nice and supportive.”

While the yearbook is not considered a competitive publication, Dawson said people often misjudge the yearbook for a low-commitment class when it actually demands a considerable commitment.

“Yearbook is a class people think is super easy, so a lot of people, like, join the class and then usually realize by add-drop, like, this class is kind of intense,” Dawson said.

When it comes to the most enjoyable parts of working on the yearbook, Angus said she finds it is unique to other classes because of the student-centered learning aspect.

“It’s not a class you’re going to be annoyed you have, ever,” Angus said. “It’s really nice just to have that, like, creative break. Even if you take art classes, it’s so different just because it’s a student-led class … so you have a different dynamic than anything else you’re a part of.”

Additionally, Co Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Gabi Dawson (’24) said she loves working with the team to develop the book’s annual theme.

“My favorite part is probably the theme development,” Dawson said. “I think it’s super stressful because you have to think of a theme that’s gonna be still relevant nine months down the line, but it’s super fun because it’s usually the time that we bond as a class and we get to know each other.”

Colorful Simple Organic Mind Map Graph by zoe_karibian

However, Densley said deciding on a theme can cause some conflict among the staff.

“Occasionally, you’ll get some little pushback between the kids in the class when they have opposing visions,” Densley said. “At the start of this year, we had some disagreement on the theme, and the class sort of split into two factions with very different ideas. In the end, we actually ended up going a different way entirely, so it didn’t matter, but navigating different visions is definitely something we can struggle with.”

Convention

Each fall, the yearbook staff have the opportunity to attend the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention alongside ASL’s newspapers, The Standard and The Scroll. Densley said the team uses the trip as a chance to learn more about yearbook from a new perspective.

“[Conventions are] such an amazing opportunity to work with industry professionals,” Densley said. “As much as I know these students respect me, there’s just something extra about hearing it from someone else. Like, ‘Okay, I can sit here and give you this critique of your pages, but when you then sit down with another yearbook adviser from a completely different school, and they’re telling you the exact same things that I told you, it adds an extra layer of sincerity.’”

Densley also said the opportunity breaks the yearbook staff out of the school’s bubble and exposes them to new takes on yearbooks.

At ASL, we kind of live in this little bubble world, especially since the U.K. doesn’t have many yearbook publications.”

— Lina Densley

“Sometimes, at ASL, we kind of live in this little bubble world, especially since the U.K. doesn’t have many yearbook publications,” Densley said. “Getting the opportunity to see other school’s books [at conventions] and get inspiration is amazing.”

Davis said she participated in the yearbook swap at the 2023 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, where various schools exchanged yearbooks for ideas and inspiration.

“We, like, got to talk to other people about their experiences and … took some things that we liked from other books, and then we kind of, like, talked about, like, doing something similar,” Davis said.

Collaboration

Densley said given the yearbook class is relatively small, they strive to hear and empower every student’s voice.

In light of this value, Caillaux Diaz said this year the yearbook team began to collaborate on spreads, which are the pages that make up the yearbook. Previously, each staff member would be assigned an individual spread to work on.

Densley said this new method has helped the yearbook team advance in her goal of voices being heard and valued.

“By working together in smaller teams, they collaborate on their spreads together so they’re all taking turns and working on different parts but they also get to brainstorming together so everybody’s perspective gets heard,” Densley said.

Caillaux Diaz said the method has “been a good way” to “foster collaboration in the classroom.”

There are three yearbook classes: Publications Design: Yearbook, followed by the Yearbook Advanced and Editor classes, which occur during the same period. Angus said the staff created groups of one editor and two advanced or staff members to enhance collaboration and mentorship.

“We work in that kind of group, and it’s just supposed to have, like, an editor as your mentor to, like, help you or guide you, or just be there if you have questions, and make sure you’re hitting all your deadlines,” Angus said.

Each quarter, the editor groups shift, so staff members get to work with a variety of editors.

Logistics

Densley said at the start of every year the staff lay out a “ladder” to provide an outline of the yearbook so they can begin distributing work and finding all the elements each page will need. Since the yearbook is a long process, Densley said the success of the yearbook “comes down to being very organized.”

Caillaux Diaz said the yearbook has a rainbow list which they use to determine which members of the High School community need more or less coverage. The rainbow list consists of community members who have already received sufficient coverage.

“We set goals at the beginning of each deadline of how many people we want to cover or, you know, trying not to repeat, like trying not to repeat interviews and use multiple people,” Caillaux Diaz said.

Caillaux Diaz said having representatives from every grade level in the yearbook class helps represent the entire High School community in the final book.

The yearbook uses surveys to collect information to use in spreads. Densley said sometimes the yearbook gets less responses than they would like, which causes problems.

Densley said the team also experiences struggles with the practical sides of creating the book.

“There’s always the typical mistakes of spelling errors and grammatical things, and, ‘Oops, we said this kid was in the wrong grade,’” Densley said. “Those things always slip through, and we do our best to make sure that they don’t happen, but inevitably, no matter how many rounds of edits it goes through, there’s always something.”

Dawson said while aiming to eliminate minor errors is ideal, she has learned not to stress over small imperfections.

“It’s okay if things aren’t 100% perfect,” Dawson said. “Obviously, you want to aim for that but there are some things that at the end of the day, I kind of tell a lot of people especially like, new people on staff, ‘If you’re looking at this spread for the first time, would you notice how this margin is slightly off?’ Most of the time, the answer’s no. So, is it worth worrying about? No.”

Leadership

Densley said the yearbook has six key editor positions: one editor-in-chief, two deputy editors-in-chiefs, and design, photography and copy editors. Furthermore, Densley said staff in the Advanced Yearbook class may take on other managerial responsibilities, such as equipment management, social media coordination or tracking deadlines.

Caillaux Diaz said during her time as deputy editor-in-chief she learned to communicate clearly with staff members.

“Sometimes there are more challenging things we need to talk about, like recurring mistakes that are being made or kind of deadlines that aren’t being met,” Caillaux Diaz said. “So you have to learn how to communicate effectively.”

Similarly, Dawson said her role often involved supporting and communicating with the staff to make the most coordinated book possible.

“I’m like responsible [for ensuring] all the pages are cohesive, and talking with our editors to kind of delegate work and making sure our copy editor has support and our design editor has support,” Dawson said. “It’s really about organizing things clearly within the editor group and then also in class when we lead discussions or like mini-lessons.”

Dawson’s experience was unique as she was selected as the first sophomore editor on the yearbook. She said she initially found the responsibility of leading peers older than herself “really scary.”

“I mean, I knew I was capable,” Dawson said. “The editors who chose me also knew I was capable. It was just, I guess, a bit of a mind trip where I had to lead people who are older than me.”

Dawson has worked with Sara Kim (’24) for the past year as Co-Editor-in-Chief. Dawson and Sara Kim (’24) are the second-ever pair of Co-Editors-in-Chief, following the Class of 2022’s Briannah Anderson and Stella Schabel. Dawson said sharing the position has been a success.

Being a leader means being able to uplift the voices of those who are less heard or less out there.”

— Georgina Angus ('26)


“We know how to work with each other,” Dawson said. “Also, it’s just a lot of work for one person so splitting it up between two is great especially, when there’s the behind-the-scenes side working with the printer and InDesign. If Ms. Densley needs help working on the technical side one person can help her while the other works on like building relationships with the class.”

Additionally, Angus said upon assuming her recent leadership position, she hopes to foster an environment where staff members feel comfortable sharing their opinions.

“Being a leader means being able to uplift the voices of those who are less heard or less out there,” Angus said. “Especially since the yearbook is supposed to represent the entire school and having just such a small class, you want at least every single member of that team to be able to share their voice.”

Furthermore, Densley said she tries to put herself on the “same level as the editors.” While she offers feedback and provides suggestions on spreads, she primarily leaves the decision-making to them “with the exception of ethical or legal concerns.”
Dawson said she initially became an editor in Grade 10 where she felt pressured to know everything at the start, but has since changed her perspective.

“I thought I needed to know everything,” Dawson said. “I thought I needed to know the whole entire style guide, all these different, like consistency rules that we had … you don’t need to know everything as an editor, like you’re supposed to help guide people but it’s okay if you don’t always know the right answer.”

Looking forward

Looking forward, Densley said she hopes the yearbook goes further with design skills to appeal to their readers.

“We’ve been working on how to find a balance between maintaining that unique voice and continuing to elevate and refine our publication skills as we learn more about things like color theory and typography rules, and design guidelines … and the psychology of our readers,” Densley said. “We should then use that information to guide their eyes to where we want it to go in the story.”

Additionally, Densley said she would love to create a yearbook with an interactive, online element.

“My big dream would be for us to eventually have a hybrid yearbook … where you can scan QR codes that will take you to digital content,” Densley said.

Moreover, Davis said she would also like to see the yearbook feature interactive content such as puzzles and games.

“I hope that we do like more interactive things, like the crosswords and stuff,” Davis said. “We’re starting to do that more this year, but I think if we kept it consistent every year, I feel like that could be like really fun.”

Additionally, Dawson said, as part of the yearbook staff, members decide how to capture the essence of the year. She said witnessing people’s reactions on distribution day makes all the effort worth it.

At the end of the day, yearbook is like a time capsule, and even though it can be a ton of work, seeing everyone’s faces while opening up the book is a great feeling.”

— Lina Densley

“You get to choose what’s being represented and what should be encapsulated,” Dawson said. “At the end of the day, yearbook is like a time capsule, and even though it can be a ton of work, seeing everyone’s faces while opening up the book is a great feeling.”

Similarly, Densley said distribution day is really exciting to witness.

“When the final print copy of the book arrives, and you’re holding [it] in your hands and able to flip through the pages and see how happy all the students are to hold something in print that they created for the first time, like that’s worth all the stress and the effort,” Densley said.

Angus said she wants the yearbook to be a source of nostalgia for graduated students in the future.

“I hope yearbook’s just remembered as something, something that holds value of their memories and of their pasts that they want to show their children when they’re older or just something that they look upon and like reminisce on,” Angus said.

Similarly, Caillaux Diaz said while the yearbook involves a lot of time and effort, meeting people who share the same passions is truly special.

“As much as it’s a lot of hard work and as much as you have to meet deadlines, at the end of the day, it’s so much fun,” Caillaux Diaz said. “All the staff and editors end up getting so close to each other, and we create just, like, such a beautiful community of people who are passionate about both journalism and design.”

Ultimately, Angus said the yearbook serves to capture memories from the High School and being part of its creation is a singular and meaningful experience.

“It’s such a personal group of people as well and it’s like so unique to anything else in the school,” Angus said. “The yearbook is something that you’re gonna look upon, and like that’s what holds all your memories of high school as well and being able to create them, be a part of something special, is just a unique experience in itself.”

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