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Yearbook Hero Deja Rolle on Inclusivity

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

Driven: just one of the sweetest words used to describe the diligent students at Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Georgia. These words came straight from former graphic design teacher, adviser, and yearbook manager Deja Rolle (who is pretty driven herself, if we do say so ourselves). As a first year TreeRing user, Deja wanted to show the perseverance of her students throughout the challenging pandemic in this year’s yearbook.

Deja, like yearbook coordinators everywhere, knew the importance of capturing the true essence of the school year with its in-person, virtual and hybrid formats. Once Deja heard about TreeRing and how it gives schools the flexibility to create custom yearbooks, using collaborative tools without the constraints of deadlines, she knew it would assist in producing a unique yearbook (alley-oop for us).

Langston Hughes High School students showed their perseverance to create an inclusive yearbook. Deja, with TreeRing’s assistance, was able to preserve this special show of character in an unpredictable year. 

Learn more about how Deja showcased the students of Langston Hughes High School in their yearbook.

What led to you creating this past year’s yearbook with TreeRing?

Just like nearly every school last year, there were a variety of new challenges that came with the pandemic—and the possibility of not having a yearbook was one of them. As the school year continued, I knew someone had to take responsibility to summarize the scope of the year during COVID-19. And I knew it had to be me. I love these students and I just couldn’t take the thought of not celebrating them.

While brainstorming the best way to capture this school year, I came across TreeRing, which allowed me to be flexible and unique with the way I formatted the yearbook.

How did the LHHS’s students handle this past school year (2020-2021)?

If the pandemic revealed anything about our students, it’s how amazing they are, their passion for success and their entrepreneurial spirit. A lot of our students stepped up to the plate when their families needed help this year and have the proof to show it. There were a slew of entrepreneurs this year who sold all kinds of products including masks, earrings, hair wraps, clothes, etc. 

Also, our students not only brought income into their families, but some even used their time at home to pursue associate degrees. In our yearbook this past school year, we had two whole pages dedicated to students who were able to receive their associate degree while graduating from LHHS! All the students’ work just drives my passion to see our students succeed.

What made this past yearbook stand out from the others?

Last school year was just crazy—everything stands out! It was so different from anything the students or I had ever experienced and will probably never experience anything quite like it again, I hope. I had to capture that in the yearbook. Since lessons were being taught in three formats, I really wanted everyone to feel included whether it was a photo submitted of their virtual workspace or text quotes from the seniors. This book really aims to capture ALL, I want to repeat ALL the students and their stories. Every year, we include everyone and their story, but what stood out the most this year was how much work it was to include everyone. 

Also, in this year’s class pictures, our students had the freedom and choice of what they wanted to be showcased, which I think was a little more fun for the students. Depending on preference, we had students submit their own portraits while others submitted selfies! This allowed our students to choose the picture they wanted to present of themselves rather than the school choosing. 

Deja Rolle now teaches at the STEM School Global Impact Academy.

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