Olla Pod Team Embraces a New Look for the 2020-21 Yearbook

From choosing the font of the page numbers to determining ripped or straight edges for page templates, the three Editors-in-Chiefs (EICs) of this year’s Olla Podrida (Olla Pod), V Formers Libby Ford, Houston Kilby, and Claire Rubenstein, have been working hard to plan each detail of the 2020-2021 yearbook.

From choosing the font of the page numbers to determining ripped or straight edges for page templates, the three Editors-in-Chiefs (EICs) of this year’s Olla Podrida (Olla Pod),

V Formers Libby Ford, Houston Kilby, and Claire Rubenstein, have been working hard to plan each detail of the 2020-2021 yearbook. Although Olla Pod only publishes once every school year, the team is responsible for organizing and designing over 400 pages for the yearbook. In addition to the efforts of the EICs and faculty advisor Pierre Sardain, who steers the overall project, staff members and their respective executive leaders also play a significant role in the publishing process.

“Most of the year we bother people for quotes and photos, but at the end of the year when [the yearbook] actually shows up in the mailboxes and students pick it up, they appreciate it. There’s kind of this magical aspect about it—you don’t see all the work happening during the year, and then [all of a sudden] it’s here,” Sardain said.

With Covid-19 restrictions on campus, the EICs anticipated making significant changes to the Olla Pod. Whether it be the all-School photo or unmasked student candid, the primary challenge they faced was a lack of content. In addition, the Olla Pod is typically organized into categories such as sports or student life; but this year, in response to the pandemic, athletic teams were unable to compete, and student events such as convocation primarily occurred in a virtual setting. To address these challenges, the EICs worked with Sardain to structure the yearbook chronologically rather than categorically, providing more organization in terms of the events that occurred each month. Furthermore, inspired by the concept of collages, they came up with a scrapbook theme for this year’s yearbook.

“We wanted to find a way to portray the different perspectives and experiences of Lawrentians, whether they were remote or in-person,” Rubenstein said. Ford added that the scrapbook theme would add a more personal touch to the Olla Pod, allowing more students to “contribute to the yearbook in their own way.” On the new theme, Kylan Tatum ’21 said, “In the past, the yearbook has felt a little bit impersonal, [so] I like the idea of having it be more welcoming—it’s more of a scrapbook and less of a professional photo album.”

To align with the scrapbook theme, the Olla Pod team decided to have V Formers design their own senior pages for the yearbook, whereas in the past, they took official portraits on campus, wrote a short blurb, and took group photos with friends. While this change requires V Formers to invest more time into creating their collages, the EICs believed that making personally-customized pages is better suited for this school year, since the V Form could not take their official portraits or group photos on campus. With this new theme, students can include photos of their sports teams, artwork, family, friends, and any other images that reflect their Lawrenceville experience. “Since seniors are designing their own pages, when I flip through the yearbook in forty years, I’m really going to remember each person, what they stood for, and who they are,” Mackenzie Bunnell ’21 said.

V Formers can also choose to have an individual page or share a spread with a friend. Sydney Chun ’21, one of the Senior Page Executives, recalled that seniors have already begun to brainstorm fun, interactive ideas for their pages. “I think it will be really exciting to see how people get creative in terms of showcasing their high school journey,” she said.

This year’s Olla Pod will also place a greater emphasis on current events than in past years. “People look at these yearbooks one or two weeks after school ends and don’t look at it again for another 25 years,” Ford said. Be it the Covid-19 pandemic, election news, or the Black Lives Matter movement, Kilby noted, “Only having one or two pages to cover these significant events was not going to be enough.”

To aid this process, Olla Pod created a new journalism team that would specifically focus on collecting relevant photos, student quotes, and fun polls of the student body to documents the impacts of these circumstances on the School community. Caroline Steib ’22, a member of the journalism team, said, “We’re making light of the situation but also giving people the opportunity to reflect on how different this year has been from past years at Lawrenceville.”

The hybrid Fall Term and remote Winter Term have also affect the club itself, as team members were unable to use online programs and discuss templates together in the office. One of the Executives of Parent Ads, Stephanie Kim ’21, said, “If we want to explain how something should be done [to our staff], we have to describe every action [of the task] rather than just showing them, and there’s more room for error that way.”

Moving forward, the Olla Pod team plans on meeting weekly to continue their work on the yearbook, especially focusing on the cover design, senior pages, and parent ads. As an EIC, Kilby has most enjoyed “getting a glimpse into all the different lives at Lawrenceville and seeing how diverse our campus is in interest and passion.” The team is excited to tell Lawrenceville’s unique journey through 2020-2021 in the Olla Pod, as Rubenstein emphasized their hopes of “getting outside of the Lawrenceville bubble but still including the Lawrenceville perspective.”

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