Dowagiac Union High School starts Yearbook Angels program

DOWAGIAC — As a yearbook acts as a memory book to past students of their high school careers, Dowagiac Union High School is looking to get books in the hands of students in need.

Last week, the Dowagiac Union High School’s yearbook launched a program to support Dowagiac’s Class of 2020 by allowing businesses and community members to buy a yearbook for a senior in need.

Kristyn Turner, an English teacher and the yearbook advisor at Dowagiac Union High School, came up with the idea after realizing how much her senior students are missing out on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was looking into what we could do, and a lot of seniors really like getting yearbooks,” Turner said. “A lot of students wait until the last minute to order them, and then I started to worry. What if now students aren’t able to afford them if their parents are in a bad spot given all of this?”

Turner turned to different Facebook groups with other yearbook advisors spread out throughout the country. One advisor had posted about the Yearbook Angels idea.

Turner reached out to Herff Jones, a manufacturing company that creates yearbooks and other educational materials, and asked if a program could be implemented at Dowagiac Union High School.

“Herff Jones actually has this program that they can put into place if you request it,” Turner said. “I talked to them and talked to my administrators about getting it set up.”

Despite in-person classes being canceled, Turner said she was excited about the amount of dedication from a lot of the students on the yearbook staff during the pandemic.

“For the first week I was in mourning. I didn’t want to look at the yearbook,” Turner said. “Once I finally just settled down and took a look, it was about one-fifth of the yearbook that was part of the cancellations, whether it was spring sports or prom or graduation.”

With one-fifth of the book needing to be rethought entirely, several staff meetings were hosted to discuss if the yearbook could create tributes to some of the missed or canceled events.

“Just last minute, I took another look at it based on the brainstorming we’ve done in the last few weeks, and we have a plan where we won’t have to cut anything out,” she said. “I think we can keep the entire yearbook intact, and it will just look a lot different.”

Turner said since the start of remote learning, more students have logged in and started checking on the book. For students who do not have access to the website, Turner said she is waiting to see what ideas students come up with when they turn their work in.

Turner has also sought help from past students in the class.

“We had a staff member that contributed last year who was unable to make it into the book, and I reached out to her while she was at home, and she has contributed a couple of body copies,” Tuner said.

Turner said Yearbook Angels is not necessarily just for the senior class. However, they are the priority.

“If we get additional donations outside of what will cover the senior class, we will look to juniors who meet our at-risk criteria and then keep going down,” she said. “Even if we get all of the students covered, we would then keep the donations set aside for next year. All of the money donated or all of the yearbooks that get purchased are going directly to the students.”

Turner said anyone looking to help provide a Dowagiac Union High School student with a yearbook could follow these steps:

• Go to yearbookordercenter.com

• Enter school code: 3490

• Click “Buy a Yearbook, Yearbook Packages.”

• Add a quantity to the right of “Yearbook Angel.”

• Buy as a business (not a student)

• In the search, type your name (or “Anonymous” if wishing to remain anonymous)

• Click “Add Business Name.”

• Type your name again and click “add the business name.”

•You will see a summary. Click “next.” This should take you to your cart.

Once a purchase is made, people can also send a note to be printed and inserted into the students’ books by emailing duhsybk@dowagiacschools.org with the subject “Yearbook Angel.”