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Students, Yearbook Editors Tackle Challenge Of Documenting Polarizing Year

Your high-school yearbook is supposed to be nostalgic. It’s supposed to bring up memories of your youth and commemorate some of the best — or, at least, most awkward — years of your young life.

But this year, yearbooks became a little more complicated. With the divisive rhetoric and political rancor surrounding the 2016 presidential election, students and yearbook editors around the country had to tackle the challenge of how to document one of the most polarizing times in our country’s history.

Curtis Dutiel is the yearbook sponsor for Desert View High School in Tucson. He says many of his students were very upset after the election, because they have a large Latino community and many undocumented students there. His principal told them the best approach was just to be fair.

As the New York Times documented earlier this year, schools tackled politics in yearbooks in various ways — from making big, splashy spreads to publishing the results of mock elections held in each school.

Some celebrated Donald Trump’s challenge to the political system, and others devoted the space to students’ participation in the election.

Elias Jo is the CEO of Entourage Yearbooks, a yearbook design and manufacturing company. The company holds an annual yearbook competition, which he helps judge and his company produces a Year-in-Review section, documenting the biggest news events of past the school year, schools can download and put in their yearbooks.

In a normal election year, he said they would have had a larger spread on it but, this year they kept it pretty straightforward. I spoke with him more about how he saw schools tackle politics this year.


Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.