On 20 March 2017, SAC President Zaid Baig and Sangavi Chandransagaran started selling the first-ever MGCI Senior Yearbooks. After advertising them through Facebook, Zaid and Sangavi sold the books at lunch in the SAC Office for thirty dollars. However, questions and confusion have surrounded the Senior Yearbook all year. Why is it only for graduating students? What happened to Garneau’s regular yearbook? Will this be the new status quo?

Senior Yearbooks were sold in the SAC office at lunch. Photo: Julien Lin

Prior to the 2016-2017 school year, MGCI’s school yearbooks were organized by Mr. Welch’s Yearbook class. From September onwards, students enrolled in the course documented school events and created the layout of the publication. However, in June 2016, the Yearbook Course for the upcoming school year was cancelled due to low enrolment. Because the course had always been responsible for producing the school’s yearbooks, Garneau did not have a Yearbook Committee, and therefore, did not have a 2016-2017 yearbook.

Then came the Senior Yearbook.

In September 2016, Zaid decided to create a yearbook himself. He believed Garneau students needed a yearbook to capture memorable high school experiences. In October, he teamed up with Sangavi Chandransagaran—a classmate who was also interested in technology and media arts—to tackle the project together.

Zaid and Sangavi developed this project as the year progressed. According to Zaid, the cancellation of the yearbook brought back memories of the trip and event cancellations caused by Bill 115 four years ago. Sangavi felt the same way, saying that ignoring Garneau’s need for a yearbook would devalue the time seniors have shared at the school. According to her, “it would be an unquestionable tragedy if the Senior Yearbook did not happen.”

With this goal in mind, the duo recruited other known graphic designers at Garneau and formed a six-member production team consisting of Thomas Getachew, Agnes Veres Szogi, Ali Kahil, Javian Albina Joy, Farhan Azeemi, and Alexa Delos Reyes. A handful of other students also submitted pages to the Senior Yearbook Team to contribute to the cause.

Unfortunately, due to the low membership, Zaid and Sangavi did not have enough designers to create a yearbook for all Garneau students. Furthermore, because the main production team was composed entirely of Grade 12 students, obtaining and scheduling photos with younger grades would have been too time-consuming. As a result, the two decided to focus on a yearbook dedicated solely to the graduating class.

In the following three months, the production team worked informally during lunches. By December, they had created and submitted a project proposal to Marc Garneau’s administration. After the project’s approval, the team focused on gathering enough content for the publication.

The timing of the Senior Yearbook’s approval presented a challenge: a number of school-wide events had passed before the project’s approval. Yearbook-specific photographers did not document these events as they would have, had there been a Yearbook Course. The Senior Yearbook Team decided to shift the publication’s focus from school events to the actual students.

According to Zaid, the best part of producing the Senior Yearbook was the creative freedom that came with it. The designers had the liberty to include more creative features which focused on the students, such as a page dedicated to the “Squads” of Garneau.

Alongside these additions, Zaid and Sangavi included typical yearbook content. The team collected photos of the 2017 Graduating Class during their Grade 9 to 12 years.

The book will also contain photos of the clubs and teams at Garneau, autograph pages, baby photos, and graduation photos. For students who did not take a graduation photo, Zaid plans to find them during April to ensure they appear in the book.

As content accumulated, Zaid approached Garneau students throughout February to gauge the school’s interest in a Senior Yearbook. Interested students were asked to sign a pre-order signup list, providing their names, student number, and email address. Within weeks, Zaid collected two hundred pledges from students interested in buying the yearbook. After approaching the school’s administration for permission to order the books, he was given one week to garner one hundred fifty purchases: the minimum order required by Frissons, the publication company MGCI historically ordered its yearbooks from.

By the end of the first week, only sixty students had placed orders. Grade 12 student Yaseen Habeebuddin said that he thinks “the sale period [was] too short.” Another student commented that he believes the low number of sales was not due to a lack of school spirit, but because one week is not enough time for many to secure thirty dollars. Further, because Senior Yearbook sales occurred alongside SAC’s Sweater Sales, some students chose to buy the sweater instead of a yearbook.

However, by the second week, Zaid and Sangavi garnered roughly one hundred thirty orders. According to Zaid, he waited on a number of still-interested students who signed the pre-ordering list to give him money after the deadline.

Despite what they said were “harsh time crunches” from administration, Zaid and Sangavi continued to process orders and finalize the yearbook content with the rest of the production team. The deadline to send proofs to the printing company is this month, but the team still has a significant amount of work to do. Zaid is also looking into other printing companies for cheaper prices, a lower minimum order, and more lenient deadlines.

The production team envisions a minimalistic yearbook. As a hardcover, coloured publication, it will have a “retro theme” and unique fonts. Zaid hopes that the yearbook will be a souvenir Garneau students can “look back at and think, ‘those were the days.’”

Reflecting on the yearbook creation process, Zaid said that he sees areas for improvement: “I didn’t have a dedicated set of people to be representatives and to help with sales.” As a result, he and Sangavi were responsible for not only leading the organization of the yearbook, but also advertising and managing orders. When asked if he would have created a Yearbook Committee, Zaid said,“It would’ve taken longer, but I think it would have been more efficient and connected with the student body.”

While the Senior Yearbook is not affiliated with SAC, Student Council is currently brainstorming ways to prevent another yearbook cancellation. The Yearbook Course was not offered during course selection this year, and may not run at Garneau in the near future. Ideas currently being considered include creating a Yearbook Committee, adding the yearbook to the Communications Coordinator’s responsibilities, or creating a new SAC position for the yearbook. However, these ideas are all in their infancy; nothing is finalized yet.

As for the 2017 Senior Yearbook, the team is working hard to secure more content and orders. Given all the effort they have dedicated to the project, they are more determined than ever to complete it. To them, the Senior Yearbook is more than a simple collection of images; it is a monument, encapsulating the final moments of high school bliss.