PMHS student newspaper, yearbook publishing during pandemic, despite loss of in-person collaboration


The website of the Pel Mel, the student newspaper of Pelham Memorial High School.

 At Pelham Memorial High School, the virus has affected every part of student life from sports to clubs to symposiums to theater. The Pel Mel, the PMHS school newspaper, and the yearbook are two extracurricular activities that have been greatly impacted as they work around the loss of in-person collaboration and an absence of activities and sports to cover. 

The Pel Mel not only gives readers access to updates on the school, community and world, but it allows students to take the Pel Mel class, called print journalism, and learn how a newspaper is written and produced. Staffers on the newspaper this year have not been able to experience the atmosphere of the classroom environment where the paper is produced due to Covid-19 restrictions. They’ve also faced the fact that there is less school news because of a lack of social activities.

“Production of the Pel Mel is relatively similar to how it was despite our lack” of print layout, said Lucy Edmunds, a senior and co-editor in chief of the Pel Mel. “Paper-production skills are not of prime importance in my opinion, but rather the experience of working closely with peers to create it. I believe, for the Pel Mel, that the pandemic has had a large effect on the structure of the class, ergo its effect on the student as an overall person. My wish is that underclassmen get to receive the same life-changing experience that I did, a near-impossible task during coronavirus times.”

The shift to hybrid learning has had a similar impact on the yearbook class.

“Our yearbook is going to look very different than it has in the past,” said Joei Paterra, editor in chief of the yearbook. “With some of our most traditional events still being up in the air, and sports seasons still in question, it’s not easy—especially when you’re trying to capture it all. As the editor in chief, my goal is for the book to focus on the good things this year, not the bad ones.”

While it’s difficult to produce a yearbook when so many events have been canceled, Paterra has stayed optimistic and encourages others to do the same as it’s easy to get caught up in this year’s disappointments. 

Not only have the regulations affected the contents of the yearbook, but the environment that the students work in has changed.

“The extreme workload that is the yearbook production and print is no different this year, and now being an assistant editor in chief, I’ve already spent 144 hours making this year’s book, and we aren’t even halfway done,” said Cristina Stefanizzi. “We’ve gotten a large amount of new recruits to our staff, and teaching them virtually has been a struggle. Our editing software has had updates with problems that we’ve had to work through to meet our deadlines. Events we cover in our book are moved and cancelled, making the entire book’s layout shift.”

“However, the stress and work that goes into this class is truly worth it in the end when you are physically holding the book at the end of the year, your name, photos and writing attached to a piece of PMHS history,” she said. Stefanizzi has hope that the work will be worth it so that students and teachers will have a reminder of this unique year to look back on via the yearbook.