Friday, September 25, 2020

Delivery made of 2019-2020 Windham Middle School yearbooks after production delay

By Ed Pierce

The cover of Windham Middle
School's 2019-2020 yearbook was
designed by Sasha Funk, who is
now a freshman at Windham High
School. The cover of the middle
school yearbook is always designed
by an eighth-grader at the 
school each year.

Student yearbooks are supposed to be a treasured remembrance of time that students spend in school and are filled with pages and photographs of club activities, sports teams and happy occasions in and out of the classroom. But the 2019-2020 yearbook for Windham Middle School may be remembered for being a memento that almost wasn't.

Across America, yearbook production was slowed in the spring because of the pandemic and that not only affected collection of materials for the Windham Middle School yearbook, but also its eventual delivery. Students finally received their 2019-2020 school yearbooks late last week following a delay of almost three months.

Windham Middle School Yearbook Advisor Jason Lanoie said students paid $25 for the yearbook, which was published by Lifetouch, a printing company based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. But with students and teachers having to use remote learning starting in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering materials and creating the yearbook was a struggle.  

“Last year the deadline was mid-April, as with most schools many advisors were scrambling to fill pages and was told by Lifetouch, the company we use for our students portraits and the yearbook that we could have until the end of April,” Lanoie said. 


According to Lanoie, Windham Middle School’s yearbook typically has 68 pages and they have no problems filling the pages.

“But with many events being canceled, I knew I would not be able to fill all of those pages,” he said. “Lifetouch eliminated eight pages for us which took off some of the stress.”

Lanoie, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics teacher, has served as the advisor for Windham Middle School’s yearbook for 10 years and said the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the entire process for producing and delivering the yearbook and is also hampering efforts for this school year too.

“I think the one downfall of the COVID shutdown is that the yearbook club wasn’t able to work on the book,” Lanoie said. “We build the yearbook online and I usually have a team of students who would stay after school and put the candid photos in the book. They didn’t get to do that this year, with after school activities not happening at the moment, we might not have a team this year which puts a lot of pressure on me.”


For the 2019-2020 yearbook, the school was contracted to sell 376 copies, so no matter how many yearbooks they pre-sold, they had to order 376. Windham Middle School actually sold 298.


“I received many emails asking to be put on the waitlist for those who wanted to buy one but missed

out on the presales,” he said. “I also sell a bunch once they come in. I think that this year the extras won’t sell as well because we don’t have the end of the year thrill of the yearbooks arriving. Plus all of the former eighth-graders, now freshman at Windham High School are not in the building.”


As the 2019-2020 school year wrapped up in June and students were still out of the building, those who ordered yearbooks were told they would receive them as soon as they arrived. In August, Lifetouch sent out an email to schools that they were working to clear the backlog and delays.


As you may know, our yearbook production facilities are located in some of the states that are being hardest hit by the pandemic. We have prioritized the safety of our employees and we are following all state and local health guidelines to create a safe working environment. Social distancing requirements mean that there are fewer people available to work at any given time,” the Lifetouch email read. “These changes have impacted our production schedule and significantly slowed our production. We realize you, our yearbook adviser, and your families, are eager to receive this year’s yearbook and it has been frustrating to not have an estimated shipping date. Please know that teams are doing everything possible to get you your finished yearbook. Shipping is monitored, and as soon as your yearbook ships, you will receive tracking information so you can arrange to distribute the yearbooks to the students and families in the manner that is best suited for everyone's safety.”


Windham Middle School received the 18th and final box of its 2019-2020 yearbook shipment on Sept. 10 and distribution began immediately.


“Last Wednesday and Thursday I hand-delivered all of the yearbooks to the students. It actually went very smoothly and with only half the students in the building at a time I only had half to do,” Lanoie said. “The freshman yearbooks were delivered to the high school and handed out in their advisory. Any students who are remote can come to the middle school and pick their yearbook up in the office.”


With not every yearbook sold, Lanoie said there are plenty of extra copies available.


“If there is any middle school or freshman families that would still like one they can reach out to me directly and we can set one aside for you,” he said. < 

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