US ‘It Has to Be Perfect’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting

09:36  10 april  2018
09:36  10 april  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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In an unusual move, the staff had submitted an entry to the most prestigious of journalism prizes for coverage of the mass shooting at their school, including a special memorial issue devoted entirely to 17 detailed obituaries ‘ It Has to Be Perfect ’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting .

Starting within hours after the Valentine’s Day shooting , they had begun to assemble into a semiprofessional roving advocacy troupe, focused on moving the needle on gun control. ‘ It Has to Be Perfect ’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting .

Moments after that terrible Valentine’s Day, the thought crept into the minds of the Aerie yearbook staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They would have to memorialize this tragedy in their pages. Somehow.

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Image. Image. PARKLAND , Fla. — The name “ Parkland ” has become a shorthand for the tragedy that many hoped would mark the beginning of the end of school massacres. But ask the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in more quiet moments about the awful year

‘ It Has to Be Perfect ’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting . At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, students knew that while preserving a record of normal school activities, they would have to include the story of a tragedy, too.

At first, some students hesitated. “I thought it’d be too much,” said Elizabeth Stout, 17, a senior who is the book’s co-editor in chief, of the staff’s offer to write about the students killed. “I didn’t know at the time if it’d even be right to.”

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Few students who have survived mass shootings in schools have faced the same dilemma. The children at Sandy Hook were too young. Those at Columbine were too far along in the school year.

At Stoneman Douglas High, where a former student is accused of killing 17 people in a deadly rampage, editors decided the shooting would not overtake their book. They insisted on preserving a record of the days that came before, the ones filled with the regular markers of high school life: Football games. Club activities. The Sadie Hawkins dance.

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" After the shooting we wanted that yearbook to be perfect and had to cover as much as possible. This year , we wanted to give proper The dogs have been there as students and teachers grappled with the suicides of two Parkland teens this spring, a spate of traumatizing false fire alarms, the first

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But they also knew their classmates would keep their book for decades, lugging it with them from dorm rooms to first apartments and showing it to their own children, who would ask about the shooting at Parkland and the lives that had been lost. The book would have to tell that story, too.

For several days in the aftermath, the staff allowed The New York Times to follow the group of 37 editors, designers, writers and photographers as they pulled together the book — choosing the photographs and laying out the pages and making the painstaking decisions on how to best honor the students and staff who had died. The 452-page book is scheduled to be published in May and distributed to more than 2,500 people.

“This,” Elizabeth said, “has to be remembered for the rest of our lives.”

A Morning of Jokes and Heart-Shaped Balloons

Cramped inside a makeshift yearbook computer lab, Sarah Lerner, 37, the students’ adviser, prodded the photo editor, Rain Valladares, 17, to pick images for the two-page spread that would show the school’s last moments of normalcy before the Feb. 14 shooting.

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The publisher of the book, which is named for an eagle’s nest — a reference to the school mascot — had waived the March 9 deadline. A yearbook adviser in Texas had created a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $47,000 for the Aerie and The Eagle Eye, the student newspaper.

Sitting in the lab, its walls filled with calendars and lists of deadlines and a copy of the First Amendment, Rain, a junior, said she had found Valentine’s Day photos on her camera when she recovered her belongings on campus, 12 days after the massacre. But she fretted that she had not taken enough that morning.

“I didn’t think I was the only one taking pictures!” she said.

The photos show Rain’s friends, some of them clad in festive red, buying carnations at lunchtime, beaming and joking in an outdoor courtyard. When Natasha Martinez, a 17-year-old junior and yearbook photographer, first saw herself smiling in one photo, holding a pink, heart-shaped balloon, she started to cry.

“I remembered how I felt that morning,” Natasha said. “I was on my way to fourth period, Spanish, and I was like, ‘Rain!’ It made me really emotional.”

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He had been expelled for disciplinary reasons, and had at least one rifle and multiple magazines when he was taken into custody about an hour after the shooting started. Murray raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings in Parkland .

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Rain and the staff selected four photographs and set them on the page.

The book is organized in chronological order. After Valentine’s Day, the staff added seven new spreads, including one page for each of the dead.

Commemorating the Dead in Tattoos and Tributes

For the staff, creating those memorial pages for each of the victims felt personal. Elizabeth assigned herself the page for Carmen Schentrup, 16, who was killed a few feet away from her in their Advanced Placement psychology class. Kyra Parrow, a senior and also co-editor in chief and photo editor, knew another one of the victims, Joaquin Oliver, 17. Isabel Chequer, a 16-year-old junior and photographer, was herself injured, bullets grazing her arm and foot.

“Being in journalism, it’s something that you have to talk about,” Aly Sheehy, an 18-year-old senior and captions editor, said of the shooting. “It’s very therapeutic. It gives us something to do.”

Several staff members, and Ms. Lerner, the adviser, have been seeing counselors. “Words can’t describe what it was,” Isabel said of that day.

Designers toggled back and forth between new layouts featuring classmates with their hair dyed blond in memory of Joaquin, or blue in memory of Carmen. Another spread displayed student tattoos commemorating the dead.

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More than a year after the horrific school shooting in Parkland , Florida, yearbook staff focused on the The same is now true of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland , Florida, site But a little more than a year after the horrible massacre, students have tried to find a way to celebrate the

WATCH Therapy dogs helping students heal after Parkland school shooting . Lerner, who is in her fifth year as a teacher at the Parkland , Florida, high school that became a household name after a gunman opened fire and killed seventeen students and staff members, said they always knew they

Taylor Ferrante-Markham, 16, a junior on the design staff, got “Love 17” on her left wrist. Elizabeth opted for a heart with “Seventeen” written in script on her rib cage. On the back of her arm, Aly wants 17 stars outlining the constellation Hercules.

“Because it means strength,” she said.

Getting a Caption Just Right

The staff had picked the 2018 theme “As One” last year. It was meant to be about high school unity, but has new poignancy after the tragedy, which brought together alumni and the residents of Parkland, and well beyond.

Besides the memorial pages, the staff also wanted to document the grief and public response in the days that followed the shooting.

“What would be a good caption for the vigil?” Taylor asked.

“You don’t want to do something sappy,” said Thomas Holgate, 17, a junior, looking over Taylor’s shoulder as she stared at the computer screen.

Kyra decided at the Feb. 15 vigil — on her 18th birthday, “so now I can vote!” — that to commemorate that moment she would look for quiet images of grief, more artistic than newspaper-like in style.

She didn’t want to show photographs of anyone crying, “like the media would,” she said.

Taylor played with the title of the vigil section. “Is that cheesy?” she asked.

“All the love,” Genevieve Martin, a 17-year-old junior and photographer, read aloud. “I don’t think it’s too cheesy.”

Taylor remained unsatisfied.

“I got it!” she said a few moments later. She typed, “Forever loved.”

The others applauded. Taylor took a bow in her chair.

Painful Reminders of That Day

For the yearbook students, the reminders of the day were everywhere. The glass window in the door to the yearbook lab, the same kind of window that the gunman shattered with his bullets in the freshman building, was still covered with brown construction paper, to keep a potential gunman from being able to see if students were inside. Aly had cut out a rectangular flap to serve as a peephole. Knocks made some students flinch.

Even as they continued to work on the pages, some students were still figuring out how to talk about what happened. Elizabeth preferred to refer to Feb. 14, or to simply call it “the event.”

“I hate calling it ‘the shooting,’” she said. “It just feels really insensitive. I just feel like it’s so brutal. Just, harsh.”

Three hours into an afternoon work session, Taylor leaned back in her chair. “I live in the yearbook room,” she declared. “My hair is crazy. My stomach is growling. Yet I am here.”

“It has to be perfect,” Aly said.

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