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Dallas Morning News: How one Garland mom made sure elementary school students had a yearbook despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Tevis Diaz said it is the ‘most important yearbook’ she’s ever made.

Source: Francesca D’Annunzio, Special Contributor to Dallas Morning News.

How do you compile a yearbook when around half the students are remote learners and don’t have a traditional school photo? Or when clubs, extracurriculars and in-person events have been canceled?

You find creative ways to fill the spreads with screenshots, at-home learning activities, and masked students working behind Plexiglass, Garland ISD mom Tevis Diaz said.

The longtime yearbook organizer and PTA member knows the importance of memorializing each grade and chapter of life. Pandemic or not, every year has moments worth remembering, Diaz said.

To tell the “story of the year” for Beaver Technology Center’s elementary school students, she used social media posts from teachers and the district, selfies, memes, teachers’ Bitmojis, photos from families of at-home learning activities and pre-designed pandemic spreads from the yearbook company TreeRing.

“We didn’t have any of our normal events and activities, and I was really struggling to try to figure out what to put in this book,” Diaz said.

Half of the school’s students did not have a photo because most remote learners didn’t attend picture day. Diaz knew she could get photos from parents, but she didn’t want students to feel out of place by not having a professional school portrait, so she had teachers send her selfies instead of using their traditional photos.

She also said some teachers weren’t taking as many photos in the classroom because they felt like it was a year to forget, she said.

“They weren’t taking pictures in the classrooms because … they feel like they weren’t doing anything special,” she said.

Even if hybrid or fully virtual classrooms and canceled extracurriculars aren’t glamorous, they’re still worth remembering, Diaz said.

“A kid just sitting and working at their desk, is a kid behind Plexiglass with a mask and a face shield in a Google Meet classroom. It really tells the story of the year,” Diaz said.

Diaz said the yearbook would not have been possible without the Beaver Technology Center’s collective efforts. The help from parents and teachers made it possible to create a book that documents this year in history for students, she said.

“Our kids are going to be talking about this. And they’re going to have this record of what school looked like,” she said. “I think it’s the most important yearbook I’ve ever made.”

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