Every summer the returning staff of The Athena, Ohio University’s official yearbook, meet to decide what the upcoming theme will be.
For the 2021-22 school year, the yearbook theme is “transitions.” Each yearbook is dedicated to the seniors and covers the memorable parts of their final year at OU.
“[The staff tries] to incorporate something that we are going through and pull that into the book to make it a lot more personal.” Callie Burton, editor in chief of The Athena, said.
After the theme is decided, the staff of four paid members and several volunteers work on collecting photos of events and seniors, creating the layout and writing blurbs for each section. The staff encourages all organizations to submit photos and information about their organization, but it has been difficult to get participants.
“We've had a real lack this year of participation in that, which hasn't been a problem in the past,” Burton said. “I think it's just like everything: you wait until the last minute to do it because the deadline’s not until February. And when we're reaching out in September, it's like, ‘OK, well, I can throw this on the backburner.’”
Getting participation is important because the yearbook seeks to be representative of the whole campus, not just the select few people who submitted photos. All seniors who submit their photo will be eligible for a free yearbook when it is released during senior week. The rest of the books will be given to seniors on a first come first serve basis.
Each club that submits to the book is also given a copy. The yearbook also goes into the digital archives, so anyone can view it at any time. Some students know about the yearbook and have received notifications about it, but may not have looked into it.
“I got a piece of mail about it,” Brendan Lowe, a senior studying business administration said.
The Athena’s website has a tab for graduates containing information and a form to submit their photo. The form is due Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. and has six questions including name, email, college, major and a place to submit the photo.
“I've had shots from the university and stuff, so I would just send that,” Lowe said.
If seniors do not have a photo to submit, Staff Photographer Lizzie Blunk, will be taking senior photos outside the fourth floor of Baker University Center on Friday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The staff does not have any requirements for photos besides being comfortable with it.
“It's my job to get that form out there,” Blunk said. “Once the books are done, I'll be contacting all the seniors and making sure they get a book since they're included in it.”
Blunk is also in charge of taking or finding photos of different events happening around campus. The yearbook features photos of official university sports and a plethora of activities on campus. Blunk is responsible for either capturing the photos or finding photos to use.
“It's hard too because there's one of me taking the pictures,” Blunk said. “If I can't be at an event, there's not really anyone else who can. The biggest challenge, for at least sourcing the photos, is getting people to send them in. My big thing has been trying to get people to care.”
Students who join the staff typically find that it is as much of a commitment as they want. Students are welcome to join at any time of the year, but most join following the Student Involvement Fair in the fall.
“I think that's a really easy way, for especially freshmen and sophomores who are attending that, to get involved,” Burton said. “If you started as a freshman, you might join a lot of things, so you don't want to allocate too much time. But then as you get more involved as a senior, we do have paid positions.”
More than anything, Burton and the rest of the staff just want to create a memorable keepsake for students to enjoy, and a memorable environment for the staff.
“I would love for every senior to be able to take that away with them and have that book of pictures of things they can look back on and be like, “Oh my gosh, I didn't even know the school offered that,’” Burton said. “And then just getting involved – if you want to be on the yearbook and want a very low commitment, volunteering or writing assignment-based and photo-based projects to work on, this is a great organization for you to join. It doesn't only just look good on a resume; it's fun.”