Despite challenges of pandemic, Burges yearbook again earns national accolades

The challenges of putting together a yearbook despite pandemic-related school closures didn’t bring down the quality of work for Burges’ Hoofbeats yearbook. The publication again earned national accolades for its 2019-2020 book.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association earlier this month awarded Hoofbeats one of 10 Gold Crown distinctions. Only one other Texas school claimed a Gold Crown in this year’s recognitions.

“I’m really proud,” said Annabella Mireles, co-editor and chief. “With COVID, we had to do 30 percent of our book online from home. CSPA noticed this.”

The 2019-21 Hoofbeats was the last one for Pat Monroe, Burges’ legendary yearbook advisor. Before her retirement last school year, she helped students at Burges earn numerous Gold Crowns and at least eight Pacemaker Awards — putting the book on the map nationally.

“She really instilled in us of how important hard work and dedication is,” said senior Reymundo  Herrera, head designer for this year’s book. “A good school becomes great spending a lot of time working on the book, collaborating and getting things done. It’s amazing what we were able to accomplish.  These are stories I can tell my children and grandchildren.”

Co-editor and chief Leah Johnston sees the book as a way for students to live vicariously through the nearly 300-pages of events, activities and memories that made up 2020-21.

“By reading it, I hope they can get a glimpse of the year and I hope our reporting tells a good story about how projects and events came together,” Johnston said.

The pandemic forced the students to learn quickly how to work via Zoom, email and social media. Despite the obstacles, the staff stayed on task and kept plugging away to ensure their classmates would end up with a prize-winning keepsake.

“A yearbook can’t come together in the 45-minute class period,” Johnston said. “It’s a lot of late nights. But the key to making great yearbook is investing the time and research. Report stories to your best ability and shoot the events and get as much coverage as possible.”

While the recognition is a source of pride among the staff, the ultimate goal is to create a quality book filled with memories their classmates can flip through now and for years to come.

“The awards we are glad to get but as long as we are happy with it and we make a solid book for students to be proud of, we’re happy,” Mireles said.

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – El  Paso ISD