Look Back Suma Gangasani: A Yearbook Portfolio

Look Around: An Editor's Note

Dear Mr. Brown,

As a member of the Vanguard staff for the past three years, it has been an absolute joy to be a part of the production of the yearbook. Yearbook has been a time for me to relax and take a break from the stresses of GSMST’s rigorous academic curriculum. As you have probably discovered, I am a very detail-oriented person, so designing and working on spreads - tweaking them for even the most minor imperfections – has sincerely been my happy place. The relaxed yet industrious atmosphere created during the production of the Vanguard has been an environment that I have really been able to thrive in over the past few years.

While my time in yearbook and at GSMST comes to a close, I can look back on my experience and genuinely say that it has been an unforgettable one. From critiquing comical photos in class to gossiping about school drama, yearbook has been more than just a class for me. It has been like a second family. Looking into the future, I am confident that I will apply many of the skills I have gained and refined in yearbook to other areas of life. Learning about the importance of time management and organization is one of the most important lessons I will take with me in the future. I intend on working in business, so the communication skills I have acquired in yearbook will definitely be put to use. As a result of this class, I plan on working on a university publication during college so that I can continue to write and express myself.

Upon reflection, I think that this year has been my best one yet in yearbook. The stress of juggling several spreads on top of my busy schedule was no longer a worry. I felt in charge of and in the loop on everything I had to do to succeed in this class. I am now a true “veteran” and can pass on the ropes to the next group of journalists.

So, now, I ask of you to join me in reflecting on this past year of hard work, endless laughs, and laudable output. Let’s look back.

Sincerely,

Suma

Look Within: A Self-Analytical Evaluation

One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is that having an organized plan set in place makes tackling big tasks much easier to do. For example, scheduling club pictures could have been very disorganized and overwhelming given the number of clubs at school and the number of potential time slots for taking the photos. Because I laid out an organized and color-coded method of scheduling the photos beforehand, the task was very simple. I had a Google doc with all the available times and color-coded clubs that had communicated with me, confirmed their time slot, and taken their photo. This system made it clear what days photos were scheduled for so that I could make sure that there would be a photographer there each time. As a result, there was always a photographer present and on-time at all photos and no photos were double-booked.

This class was valuable to take because it teaches the importance of organization and time management, which are both skills that are useful at all stages of life. Whether it was planning out how I would complete my spreads before a deadline or creating a system for organizing my photos in folders, I had to stay on top of my yearbook responsibilities in order to have quality material ready on (or before) due dates. I plan on using these skills in college and beyond, especially when it comes to planning out how to study for tests and exams or organizing my various commitments into a clear schedule.

Look Into: A Series of Reflections

Reflection 1
Calendar spread

I consider the calendar spread from the Student Life section to be my most significant piece of work for the book this year. It was one of the more difficult spreads for me to complete because I had to design it from scratch and had to track down dates, information, and pictures about the school since its establishment ten years ago. I went through several drafts of designing before I came across the main inspiration for my final design online. Once I decided on the general design of a mosaic of different sized and colored boxes, I had to figure out which events I would cover and how I would get information about and pictures from those events. I had to consult with teachers and scour school archives online to dig up information about past milestones. From working on this spread, I learned the importance of communication and following up with others, especially when working with my partner, teachers, and faculty. If I had not followed up, I would not have been able to get access to many of the photos, dates, and information that I ended up using on the spread. For instance, I had to follow up with the Tech Team several times about photos and information about the first ever laptop roll out in 2008. I am most proud of the look of the spread. It is neat, colorful, organized, and visually pleasing to the eye.

Reflection 2
Teacher Superlatives spread

The Teacher Superlatives spread is a piece I worked on that could still use work. My group and I went through several different designs and didn’t have the end design that was used in the book until after we started uploading content. For a long time, we intended on using a different design where the superlative pictures would be in a diamond shape, but the space constraints made that design unusable. Because of this, the final design we arrived on was conceived from a design-as-you-go process while trying to put the final draft together. In this sense, there wasn’t as much time to come up with a more creative design. Though I am happy with the way it turned out, if I had the chance to improve it, I would definitely try to work more on improving the design so that there would be less white space and more space for quotes from the teachers. The process for this spread was by far one of the most stressful because of the difficulties we experienced in designing the spread and coordinating teacher pictures in a timely manner, but, overall, I am satisfied with how it turned out.

Reflection 3
Club pictures planning document

I was an asset to the Vanguard staff and yearbook in that I played a big behind-the-scenes role. On top of working on my own spreads, I helped revise and mark spreads for completion, design the Senior Superlatives pages, put together the Teacher of the Year page, and run and edit club photos. I made yearbook an outside of class responsibility and time commitment, especially for club photos. Over the span of a month, I communicated with faculty and club leaders and was absent from Guided Study and stayed after school many times in order to take club pictures. I also edited all club photos for the index. Within class, I always made myself available to help new students with the class and to take on background responsibilities to ensure that the book got finished.

Look Upon: A Collection of Finished Products

Complete Spread
Alumni spread

I really like this spread because it is unique from spreads I have worked on and designed in the past for Student Life. This spread is mostly four separate modules but each module incorporates a different design element. The dominant design element on this spread is the slanted line, which is incorporated in the background of the spread and the module on the right-hand page. Another design element we used was overlap, which is applied in the career, spirit wear, and “where are they now?” modules. The spread is visually pleasing because various shapes are harmoniously incorporated into one spread that flows nicely from left to right (the eye follows the slanted background). I am thankful that we got detailed and interesting responses for the alumni survey we sent out, which made the process of contacting specific alumni easy. The content reflects my best work because I challenged myself in the design arena when conceptualizing the layout of this spread. I’m happy with the way it turned out because it covers students from seven different graduating classes and conveys data covering alumni as a whole.

Body Copy
Interact copy

This my best copy because of the amount of details unique to the year I managed to include in it. Originally, I had a more attention-grabbing intro paragraph written in the point of view of a group of Student Performance Night performers, but, due to space constraints, I had to cut it out. If given the chance to improve this copy, my suggested improvement would be to include an opening story to hook readers in at the beginning. I like how I emphasized Interact’s biggest events, acknowledged its more minor achievements, and highlighted its most important change this year, which was its new sponsorship with the Gwinnett Mosaic Rotary Club.

Picture 1

This picture reflects my best dominant photo because it utilizes leading lines and rule of thirds. A leading line is created by the cardboard base and rule of thirds is used because the subject of the shot is at an angle and taking up about a third of the photo. The subject of the photo, Ashley, was beginning to wire the circuitry for her house project in PhysEng and, if you look closely, you can see that she succeeded in lighting one of the Christmas lights. This photo was originally supposed to be the dominant photo on my spread, but Ashley was already being used as the dominant photo on another spread, so I had to remove her from mine. Regardless, I really liked this photo because it did a good job of conveying my theme for the page, which was to emphasize women in STEM.

Picture 2

I like this photo because it fills the frame, was taken at a different eye view, and shows repetition. I took this photo kneeling down at table level and was really up close to the subjects of the photo when I took it. This photo showcases repetition because both girls are using colored pencils to make holiday cards. I like this photo because of the emotion conveyed. Rule of thirds is also displayed because the two girls make up 2/3 of the shot and a leading line is created because of the angle at which the photo was taken.

Picture 3

I like this photo because it utilizes rule of thirds and shows action. Rule of thirds is applied to this photo because the two boys take up the right third of the shot. The action of the shot involves the construction of the track. I used this photo because it showcased the early stages of construction for one of PhysEng’s biggest projects, the roller coaster. I also like that the subjects of the shot are so intently focused on the task at hand. It shows how serious PhysEng students are about designing and creating a successful project.

Caption 1
I took the photo and wrote the caption for this photo. I like this caption because it is packed with extra details pertaining to the picture and the club the photo involves. I did not have enough room in the copy to include all the details about World Quest’s biggest accomplishments for the year, so I used this caption as an opportunity to describe the team’s wins for this school year.
Caption 2
I took the photo and wrote the caption for this photo as well (caption corresponds to "Picture 2" in previous section). Similarly, I like this caption because it describes what is going on in the photo while also giving details about what was going on at the event it was taken at. I had already described the Interact holiday card service effort in another caption, so I used this caption to describe an interesting activity that occurred at the meeting. This helped to define the atmosphere of Interact as a club outside of what was described in the copy and the major events and service drives it is known for.
Caption 3
I wrote the caption for this photo, which was taken by Madison Greer. I used the first sentence to describe what was going on in the photo and the second sentence to give a chance for a Reader’s Rally member to express what they liked about the club. The added quote helped distinguish this caption from other captions on the spread and also showcased Reader’s Rally from the perspective of one of its dedicated members.
Module
This was the only module I made for the Academics section of the book as my other modules were part of Student Life. There was just enough space for a small module on the spread, so this module was included to increase student coverage. It was really difficult to find unused students willing to comment something positive about PhysEng for the spread, so I am happy with the type of responses we received from these two students. I also like how there is slight overlap with the text of the headline. I thought it was important to give both a female and male perspective on PhysEng, so we included quotes from a Vani and Aarya, who are in different PhysEng blocks.
Grade Argument

I believe that I should receive an “A” in this class because of the amount of work and dedication I put into it over the past year. I was assigned six spreads throughout the year and managed to complete them on time and make them high quality. I also took on many responsibilities outside of my assigned spreads, including interviewing Dr. Funk and creating the Teacher of the Year section, designing the Senior Superlatives section, and being in charge of club pictures, on top of editing and revising other peoples’ spreads. I did not waste time in class doing nothing and was responsible for completing the majority of the work on the spreads I was assigned. No matter what I was doing at the moment, I also made time to fulfill Mr. Brown or Anam’s requests if they needed help with anything. I made the most out of yearbook and enjoyed my time in the class.

Look Ahead: A Closing Note

Yearbook this year was by no means easy. There were bumps along the way, but it was without a doubt an enjoyable journey. Much like life, yearbook is about learning from the past and looking into the future.

This year was one of the best yet: designs were more advanced, pictures were more versatile, and spreads were more exciting.

As I reflect on this past year, I have learned so much. About journalism. About time management. About communication. About organization. I have used my mistakes as a catalyst for growth for the many other challenges and difficulties I will face in the future.

It's no longer time to look back; it's time to go forth.

-Suma

Created By
Suma Gangasani
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