Special to AFN

A group of Desert Vista High School journalists are ending the school year on a high note.

The staff for the school yearbook, called “The Storm,” earned national recognition as being among the best high school yearbooks of the year.

With a theme titled “Naturally,” this year’s edition of “The Storm” is featured in the “Jostens Look Book,” a compilation of spreads and photos from outstanding yearbooks that honors their “creative themes, cool covers, dazzling designs, relevant coverage, storytelling copy and action-packed photography.”

“The Storm” was created by yearbook staff members under the direction of senior editors Ally Costello and Marisa Jacobsen with Michelle Coro as adviser.

“Each year, our student leaders rise to the challenge of creating a book that is unique to the school year,” Coro said. “The team of student leaders had a goal in mind of what they wanted to accomplish and they’ve done a great job. Creating a publication is so much more than what most people realize.

“This crew is learning and using real-world skills that give them a foundation and an edge for the next step in their lives. We have editors who are getting jobs and opportunities based on what they are doing in this class and with this massive project.”

The honors accorded to “The Storm” also extend to the two top editors.

Ally, who is bound for Northern Arizona University in the fall, will work this summer as a camp photographer after she was chosen because of her school portfolio of work.

Marisa Jacobsen, who will attend Austin Community College with the intention of establishing residency to go on to the University of Texas, was invited back to the Jostens National Summer Workshop as an intern this summer because of her work.

Another yearbook editor, Sophia Santos, has won a full scholarship to Arizona State University as a first-generation college student. Maya Coro, a junior, will assume leadership of next year’s yearbook staff.

“The Storm” was one of 418 yearbooks selected by Jostens from approximately 3,000 entries.

“Yearbooks are unique, limited-edition books created by students to capture the stories and events for all of the school’s students, and Jostens is proud to celebrate the yearbook tradition,” said Look Book editor Gary Lundgren, calling the selections “very sophisticated in terms of visual presentation and the relevant and inclusive content that is featured.”

Coro gave her student staff all the credit:

“These kids have been amazing. The amount of time and commitment that it takes to want to step into take a leadership position really shows their character. I appreciate each of them, along with the entire staff for helping to make it happen.”

The 2017 “Storm” is the school’s 22nd edition and is produced by students in the digital communications course, a career and technical education program.

“Our staff has 10 advanced editors and 46 beginning students, who were brand new to the program and the process of putting together this massive project,” said Coro, who started advising yearbook staffs in 1996 at Ruskin High School in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 2002, she joined Desert Vista, where she has advised the yearbook, ‘View” newspaper, dvthundermedia.com online news and DVTV video production.

“The Storm” traditionally has been popular with Desert Vista students.

“Our buy rate is nearly 70 percent, which is pretty high nationwide,” Coro said.

And this year’s recognition from Jostens is something of a tradition as well, given that “we consistently have garnered national respect as a leader in the yearbook world,” she added.

Work on the yearbook begins early with a group of student editors going to a national yearbook summer camp at the University of San Diego.

“They come up with a theme that is relevant to the lives of students at the school and can be unified verbally and visually,” Coro explained. “As the year progresses, they reassess and retool by adding details that are specific to the year. I teach our students to understand that the yearbook fills many roles; it is a fun, educational, and historical picture/public relations/reference book all rolled into one.”

The resulting 344 pages comprise “one of the largest books in the state,” she said, adding, “It’s really amazing to think of where they start and where they end.” It also weighs five pounds.

This year’s edition is Coro’s 13th “Storm” and Coro noted that many students get into its production without knowing much about photography or other aspects of the process.

“It’s a steep learning curve to produce a product like this that will be seen by thousands of people, so it’s important for them to understand that this is not an individual piece of work,” Coro said. “I often remind them that people pay to see their homework.”

“In a school with 20-plus sports, 50-plus clubs and 3,100 students and staffers, our goal is to get everyone in the book multiple times,” she added

“Technology has changed everything we do and it still evolves because we have to find a way to keep students interested and involved. Our staffers gain skills and talents throughout the year. It can be a shock to some of them to realize just how far they have come.”

The title “Naturally” derives from an effort to get people away from the notion that the school’s accomplishments come naturally, Coro said, explaining:

“Taking a deeper look into the activities, academics and athletics reveals that, while many students are blessed with strengths and abilities, they also are nurtured through hard work, competition and a daily devotion from Desert Vista’s natural setting.”

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