Holding high standards

2015 yearbook wins award


Lily Dean

2016 Eurekana staff celebrates earning an All American, Sept. 16.

“Caution: Once you enter the Hub, you’ll never be the same,” hangs on the wall to the right of the entry of room 704.

Ryan Bircher, resource editor, hung it there at the beginning of this year, his senior year, looking ahead at the end of an era. He has spent three classes a day in the room for his last two years after taking Video Production, a journalism prerequisite his sophomore year.

“Going through high school is very different after being the publications room,” Bircher said. There isn’t a secretary or an administrator in the building that doesn’t know him.

Bircher is pretty representative of the staff. He can be spotted on the sidelines of football games, often sporting not one, but two cameras. Just like his classmates, Ryan is everywhere, prepared to cover anything.

“I spend more time with many of these students every day than my own child,” Mrs. Elisha Strecker, publications adviser, said. “These kids continually go above and beyond every day to document life at EHS for years to come.”

That’s a challenge the Eurekana yearbook staff faces every year: how to tell the same story again and again and engage their audience as both teenagers and their future adult selves.

If yearbook doesn’t cover it, 20 years from now when those once-seniors share their yearbooks with their teenage children, it is as though those undocumented events never happened.

Yearbook is forever. The students who make that commitment to documenting the lives of the 2,200+ community member every year are a part of the legacy that is the EHS publications.

Last year’s yearbook staff just left their mark on that legacy. The Eurekana 2014-2015 yearbook earned an All American honor ranking from The National Scholastic Press Association.

The 2015 Eurekana earned all of the possible five marks of distinction a yearbook can earn: Concept/Essentials, Coverage, Writing/Editing, Design and Photography.

Only 34 out of 328 other yearbooks from across the country earned All Americans. The yearbook earned 4,650 out of 5,000 points.

New to EHS in July when the staff distributed the book, Mr. Charlie Crouther, interim head principal, took notice of the book.

“When the yearbook was laid down on my desk by my secretary, it was the uniqueness of the colors and the cover itself that stood out to me,” Mr. Crouther said. “It’s just gorgeous and a very fabulous memory for the students to keep on their shelves as they grow older.”

The staff took a risk with its theme Shift Happens, inspired by the presentations of educator and educational consultant Mr. Karl Fisch. He travels the country addressing the shifts that are occurring in the world and the implications of those shifts one ducation.

“First of all, the kids knew the readers would need to have a sense of humor. ‘Shift Happens,’ that’s a little edgy,” Mrs. Strecker said. “They did not mean it in that way. If you’d read the book, you’d know they were serious. The ground was shifting beneath their feet all the time.”

The risk paid off.

“I think it’s always important to push your boundaries,” Emily Benton, 2015 Eurekana editor- in-chief, said. “We really tried to get more people in the book, get better stories with better coverage and a more creative style for our yearbook.”

Former head principal Deborah Asher noticed the extensive amount of coverage.

“It had a good cross-section of everything that goes on here in Eureka. It made me remember things that I had forgotten,” Mrs. Asher said.

Capturing the school year isn’t easy.

“Being part of the staff means to document something that everybody in school will treasure for the rest of their lives,” Katie Dames, 2016 Eurekana editor-in-chief, said. “Even though it’s awkward in the moment when you are in a classroom taking pictures, the memories are always powerful.”

The St. Louis area is filled great journalism programs. LHS adviser Mrs. Nancy Smith, MJEA vice-president, is familiar with all those great books. MJEA is the state organization for scholastic journalism.

“I think a lot of times people don’t realize the amount of dedication and time that it takes to produce that level of material,” Mrs. Smith said. “It really depends on how dedicated your staff is to their work and what they’re doing. You have to have everyone on board in order to score a high ranking.”

Of course, the students don’t do it for the praise, which is good because it comes infrequently.

“In journalism, the only feedback you tend to get is negative,” Mrs. Strecker said. “We got a few complaints this year which kind of overshadowed the compliments,” Mrs. Strecker said. “The students worked really hard on that book. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a business as well, and it’s hard to make everyone happy.”

The little praise left  last year’s staff members wondering .

“We worried no one really liked it, but when we won the All American award, it felt good because the people critiquing really liked it,” Darby Wright (12) said.

This honorable award makes the work all worthwhile, and puts the criticism in perspective.

“The staff and I did a whole lot of work,” Benton said. “This award just confirms that someone really recognizes the hard work we put in the entire year, from summer to summer. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that book. It’s just a good thing for someone to recognize that, especially outside of our school.”

While the recognition is nice, it isn’t the goal.

“In 12 years, I don’t remember anyone associated with The Hub complaining about not getting recognized for what they do,” Mrs. Asher said. “They just do it, like professionals.”