TAYLORVILLE — After two years of remote- and hybrid-learning through the pandemic, Taylorville schools returned to a fully in-person schedule this past year, letting classes and extracurriculars return to mostly normal conditions. This paved way for the theme of the annual yearbook, the Drift.
“Our theme for this year’s yearbook is ‘Back to Our Roots,’” explained junior Addison Vocks, the Editor-in-Chief of the publication. “We thought that was perfect because this year is all about coming back to school full-time — we had no remote learning days — and just branching out into different classes. It’s really the year of coming into yourself.”
The cover, designed by Vocks, features a tree silhouette in front of a golden sun that fades into a deep purple background. Readers can see the theme recur throughout the pages with consistent fonts, tree branch illustrations and a leaf-shaped folio.
“The cover ties perfectly into our theme,” Vocks said.
But returning to pre-COVID “roots” brought its own set of difficulties along with the perfectly-fitting theme. The journalism class had no seniors, so even the most veteran members had never worked on a yearbook before COVID.
“When we first started our junior year, we were a little bit confused about how the whole process would go, so we struggled a little bit with getting our deadlines in and getting everything done,” Vocks said, “but as the year went on, we figured out the basics of everything. It took a lot of calling Walsworth and them telling us what to do. Thanks to our previous editors, we were able to take what they taught us and everything they knew and build off of that.”
After the last day of classes each summer, the Drift staff continues to come in until mid-July to finish the publication and submit the final pages to Walsworth. An abundance of snow days over the winter led to a later last day of school — and a later start to the yearbook. Instead of school getting out mid-May, school wrapped up on June 3.
“Going so late in the school year was pretty tough on our actual yearbook process,” Vocks said. “Because we started so late, it was harder to get into the flow of things. We’re still on track; we just have to submit a lot of pages each day.”
Adviser Stephen Steele holds the staff to a June 30 deadline each year, when all pages must be submitted to Walsworth for the first time. After Walsworth receives pages, they print proofs and send them back to the school, and the staff makes any final edits and submits them for the final time.
The journalism class also publishes a monthly newspaper, the Zephyr, which takes precedence during the school year. Junior Emma Murphy, who serves as Assistant Editor for the Drift and Editor-in-Chief for the Zephyr, felt that the group struggled mainly with time management the past year, especially when balancing the two publications.
Vocks, who serves as Assistant Editor for the Zephyr in addition to her role for the Drift, voiced that having a large amount of first-year staff members caused a few issues.
“I think just having a lot of new people here [was the biggest difficulty], because right now we have six or seven first-years, so that was pretty difficult to navigate at first,” Vocks said. “But the longer it went on, the more they learned.”
Next year will bring even more changes, good and bad. First-year students will outnumber the veteran members 11 to five, Steele will retire at the end of the year, and the class will have a full set of new computers.
Despite all the changes and challenges, the staff remains optimistic and is set to meet all deadlines.
“Can I say just getting through it?” Vocks joked when asked what she was most proud of this year. “I think this year, I’m just proud of being able to finish out the summer strong, even though we all want to sleep in an extra hour, or extra four, and just being able to come in and finish the yearbook.”