Yearbook Hero Cristina Gutierrez

Yearbook Hero Cristina Guitierrez

Treering Yearbook Heroes is a monthly feature focusing on yearbook tips and tricks.

In San Mateo, California, a group of remarkable students has embarked on an extraordinary journey. Led by their passionate social sciences teacher Cristina Gutierrez, the diverse group at San Mateo Union High School Bridge program (SMUHSD Bridge) is not only learning English and striving to complete their high school education but also making history by creating their school’s inaugural yearbook.

What made you decide to start a yearbook program this year

We started the program so our students could have something physical to remember all the unique memories and memorable moments in our Bridge program. As they move on in life, I want them to be able to hold onto that joy. 

Our students face challenges above and beyond most high school students. Most are unaccompanied newcomers from Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico, and many come to the U.S. to flee violence or to reunite with a family member. Students range in age from 16 to 18, and 95% also work full-time to support family in their home countries. We wanted a way to empower them to showcase their experiences, culture, and dreams. 

Cristina’s student team created the first-ever yearbook for their academic program.

What activities, events, and programs did you cover in the 2022-2023 yearbook? 

Every day at Bridge is different and exciting, so we tried to showcase all our diverse activities in our yearbook. We covered the fiestas we held, Independence Day for some students’ home countries, Halloween, various award ceremonies, field trips, and English Learner Development classes. Our soccer league even won the championship in May! And, of course, we covered the people who make up Bridge: our staff and students. We honored our graduating seniors with recognition pages. They deserve all the accolades! 

Our school’s philosophy and teachings are grounded In Lak’ech pedagogy, a Maya affirmation that roughly translates to “you are my other me,” it focuses on prioritizing our relationships and responsibility to one another to foster a supportive learning community. We included In Lak’ech in our yearbook to memorialize our learnings. 

How did the students participate in creating the yearbook?

Our independent studies students worked together to create the yearbook. Treering’s crowdsourcing made it easy to grab photos from across the school. Working on this project was a hands-on way to teach students valuable skills like graphic design, storytelling, and photography to use later in life. It was also great to see students reminisce about our different events in the past while creating the yearbook. 

What is the most memorable thing about your yearbook?

Our program is constantly growing in numbers, and throughout the year, we are continually adding new students to our Bridge family. It’s never too late to join the program. We captured much of our year with Treering’s later deadlines, but even students who arrived in the last month of school were still thrilled to receive a copy of the yearbook and hold on to those memories. Their excitement shows how powerful a yearbook can be – it keeps students excited for future years’ memories and gives them a physical treasure to take home. 

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