Candice Anvari staff writer
As a result of under-enrollment, Watchtower Yearbook could potentially be shut down for the 2020-2021 school year. Currently, the publication’s staff members and adviser Gaby Doyle are searching for new students to keep the publication from dying.
This year’s yearbook staff currently has 12 students enrolled in the class, but they are expecting enrollment to drop to seven students next year. Even with a class of 12 students, Doyle noticed the staff members faced many obstacles throughout the production process.
“A class of 12 is still not enough students. It’s too small. It’s too much work,” Doyle said. “I think these kids are so driven and so ambitious that they bit off more than they could chew. Every year, they try to do something really ambitious with the yearbook, and it’s really hard to accomplish when there are not enough students involved in the process. It’s too much work for this number of students.”
Doyle experienced a similar enrollment situation in 2015 when Watchtower had eight students on staff. She believes that was one of her worst years of teaching because of how difficult it was to make the yearbook with such a small staff, so Doyle doesn’t wish to repeat that experience next year.
“That year, I wanted to leave teaching. I was so worn down and I felt so defeated. It was just too hard,” Doyle said. “These kids can’t do it with a staff of seven next year. It makes me really sad that the members of this school community are not joining the yearbook and that it’s not a priority to them to have this book in existence. We can’t just have things that other people make and expect other people to keep doing it.”
According to Doyle’s roster for next year, half of next year’s currently enrolled staff will graduate in 2021 and not a single incoming freshmen chose to take Watchtower as their elective.
Beverly Vista Middle School’s yearbook adviser Nicole Goshen believes that part of the reason the incoming freshmen chose not to join Watchtower is because they don’t know what how they’d play into the program, but she thinks they might change their minds once they see the yearbook they produced this year.
“There may have been a little confusion in the role they would play and how that would affect the project. But after it’s said and done, and after they see the finished product, I think many students will look forward to capturing the moments of their school years in the future,” Goshen said.
Although no incoming freshmen are currently enrolled for the 2021 yearbook, Watchtower staff member junior Eva Levin believes the yearbook could run with a staff of seven if the students are dedicated.
“My yearbook class is pretty chaotic, but so amazing,” Levin said. “Going from a not-so-dedicated staff of 25 to a dedicated staff of 12 was a change, but the people I am in class with now are so amazing.”
Levin is “terrified” at the thought of the yearbook class being shut down next year because she had hoped her work on staff this year would’ve put her in the running for an editorial position her senior year.
“I have worked so hard and put in so many hours. If the whole thing goes away, all I have is the two books I worked on,” Levin said. “If they shut yearbook down, I don’t really have a place to go. I don’t want to enter an entirely new elective, at the intro level, during my senior year.”
The first step Doyle and principal Mark Mead will take, before they decide to take the class off the elective list, is to encourage students to enroll in Watchtower.
“Mr. Mead offered to send an email on behalf of the class to try to recruit more students, so the first thing we’re going to do is get at least 14 students on staff. That’s still too small, but I think we can make it work,” Doyle said.
If not enough students enroll, Doyle and Mead might consider combining Watchtower and Highlights, the online news publication, into one class so the newspaper staff can help publish the yearbook.
If students want to join the yearbook, they can email their counselors to get enrolled in Publications Journalism.