COVID-19 Impacts CAF&DM Publications

Virtual+summer+production+week+began+Monday%2C+August+10+for+the+Highlights+staff+via+zoom.+They+are+training+in+their+staff+on+how+to+write+for+each+section%2C+of+their+magazine%2C+photography%2C+ethics+and+more.+They+are+also+working+on+their+first+issue+of+the+school+year.+

Grace Rodriguez

Virtual summer production week began Monday, August 10 for the Highlights staff via zoom. They are training in their staff on how to write for each section, of their magazine, photography, ethics and more. They are also working on their first issue of the school year.

Isabel Donner, Staff Writer

With the onset of COVID-19, many changes have come about, most being especially prevalent when it comes to school. The Communication Arts, Film and Digital Media academy, specifically, has experienced a great amount of upheaval with the loss of ability to meet in person. This year, the CAF&DM publications have been constantly adapting to overcome the obstacles that have arisen in regards to creation and output of news, communication, distribution and induction of new members.

“As CAF&DM academy leader I do worry about providing our students with the best experience ever in a virtual setting. I think we are doing the best that we can. Our academy teachers are beyond amazing! They’re always willing to give more than 100% into making learning relevant to their students, getting them the resources they need to be successful and figuring out a way to make things happen this year. These teachers don’t make excuses. I am always grateful to be part of such an incredibly dedicated team of advisers,” Ms. Zuniga said.

Production week, a crucial aspect for the publications in the CAF&DM Academy, is the series of days in which new and returning members of each of the five publications here at Coral Gables Senior High meet to discuss and prepare for the upcoming school year. They use this week to not only teach the new members the ins and outs of their publication, but also to form strong bonds with one another. Unlike previous years, production week was held virtually.

This wasn’t the only obstacle that the publications were faced with. Gables’ yearbook team, the Cavaleon, faces the challenge of finding student body pictures to fill up the pages of the yearbook. The worry of not having enough school events to cover, is a big one. However, they are already brainstorming creative solutions. The Cavaleon team is using social media to get in contact with Cavaliers outside of the staff’s friend groups and plans to feature individual students rather than larger groups for the time being. As for the physical copies of the yearbook, this challenge is still being thought about, as no one really knows whether schools will have the ability to reopen. Considering all things stay the same, they will choose order less copies and have a smaller yearbook, but it is still too early to be sure of this.

However, being online is not bad for all Cavaleon members. “A good thing about being online is that, for me, it is always easier to think creatively in the comfort of my bedroom,” sophomore Zarah Correa said.

The school’s newsmagazine, Highlights, will experience similar challenges to those of the other publications. However, despite the challenges, the team has already brainstormed solutions. With large school events canceled for the foreseeable future, Highlights will begin covering online events and additional events that affect the student body, for example, Mr. Ullivarri becoming the new principal. As for sports, they will spotlight the way athletes are training despite COVID-19 complications. Without the ability to distribute a physical copy of their magazine to students, they will publish all of their issues online. The team has already found an online program that works well in assisting them with scheduling and organization.

“At the beginning [of quarantine], I was really concerned about online school, because Highlights is a very hands-on staff and we often do everything in person. However, everyone on the staff has been so patient and the past week of summer production has been extremely helpful in getting accustomed to the new online platforms we are using. The only thing that is disheartening for me is not being able to print the issue, but I’m sure we will find a solution to continue distributing Highlights in person as soon as school returns,” senior Alexandra Torres said.

I will miss being able to meet the new staff in person [and] see my friends that I have not been able to see since before summer,”

— junior Marta Rodriguez

Catharsis, the creative writing magazine, has not yet had their production week, but the team is already planning and preparing for it. Extensive measures are being taken to ensure that their staff is comfortable with the platform they will be using as it is still new to students and can complicate expression. Although communication has been difficult for this publication due to choosing email as their main form of communication, transitioning online has had its benefits. Aside from production week and communication issues, Catharsis has not experienced too drastic of a change as they don’t rely as heavily on student quotes and pictures as the other publications do. Their biggest change is transitioning to sharing the magazine online rather than in a physical form.

“This year Catharsis will be mainly composed of a new incoming staff. The editorial board has been working tirelessly to create introductory material to better introduce staff to each genre featured in the magazine. Apart from the curriculum, we also want to make sure that students feel comfortable and are excited to write and share their work. I know that the vision of this year’s EIC and the rest of the board’s dedicated and passion, Corona won’t hinder the Catharsis experience,” senior Chloe Grant said.

Fortunately for CavsConnect and CavsTV, transitioning online was not an issue because they are already online publications. They have been successful in establishing a communication system and team members have actively prepared for the start of the school year throughout the whole summer. Similar to The Cavaleon and Highlights, they do face the issue of not being exposed to as many student events as they normally would be but luckily, their online news website offers many different sections in which new and returning staff writers will still be able to contribute while remaining relevant to the student body.

“As my first year as Co-Editor-In-Chief of CavsConnect, the start of the school year being fully online is not exactly what I envisioned. However, I am so grateful for our staff and especially our editorial board for being so accommodating to the adaptations we felt were necessary in order to conduct our production week and future classes online. This school year is going to be one for the books and I am excited to make memories with our staff, regardless of whether or not we are all together physically,” junior Maïa Berthier said.

Although COVID-19 has caused many to change traditional routines, the CAF&DM publications have each found a positive aspect and have slowly began adapting to the new normal. Staff members from all publications eagerly await the day when meeting and collaborating in person is possible again, but are excited to commence on this virtual journey together.