Donnelly and Marwaha: creating a yearbook for the books

Two students look through “spreads”, a yearbook’s page designs, for this year’s yearbook, making sure all sections are united under one, top-secret theme. If one didn’t know, he or she would think that these seniors have known each other forever and have been preparing since freshman year for this publication that will be leafed through for years to come by those who wish to reminisce high school crushes and awkward years.

Seniors Julia Donnelly and Suraj Marwaha are the editors in chief of the 2014-2015 yearbook. Both stumbled into Journalism 1, an introductory class to the field of journalism.

“I took journalism thinking you literally journal in a notebook or something,” Marwaha said. “I didn’t know journalism was news. I found out that I loved design, and I chose to join yearbook [last year] because it was the more design oriented of the two publications at Central.”

Donnelly was talked into taking the class by one of the yearbook advisors, Ms. Timmons.

“I had Timmons for sophomore English 2 Honors, and she just does what she does every year, which is appealing to her classes, saying you guys should really take this class,” Donnelly said. “And then she came up to me and was like, ‘Julia, I really think you should take this class.’ I wasn’t going to do it and then she was like, ‘Just interview, just try it out.’ So, I got the position of copy editor, which was a big step for not knowing anything about journalism.” Donnelly was flattered and felt obliged to take the offer. “Turns out I loved it immediately,” Donnelly said. “So, once I got more experience, I decided to go for editor in chief.”

They found out about their positions in late winter of junior year and started planning and interviewing hopefuls for other positions immediately. However, the real planning began over the summer.

“This summer, we planned out what we wanted it to look like, to sound like, to feel like,” Marwaha said. The E.I.C.s also design the cover of the yearbook, while managing the staff, of course. Both agree it is a stressful, but worthwhile job.

“My favorite part is helping our section editors and copy editors and writers get all their work together so that all of their good work goes into great work,” Donnelly said.

“It’s only December, and I feel like all the stress and good times we’ve been through, I feel as close to [Julia] as friends I’ve known for years,” Marwaha said. “That’s definitely been the best part of this: the memories I can make with the core four.” The “core four” refers to Marwaha, Donnelly, and their two advisors, Ms. Timmons and Mr. Bhatti.

Donnelly discusses other valuable aspects of the yearbook.

“I get to talk to so many people that I would never get the chance to talk to normally just with the opener, ‘Hey, I’m from yearbook! I have a question for you,’ or something,” Donnelly said. “This year, we have such a diverse group of kids that are in this class, so working with them is really cool because otherwise I might have never gotten to know them or be their friends.”

Both editors speak very passionately about their work and the upcoming yearbook. They rave about every section, from sports to senior ads.

“We’re making a very different yearbook from past years,” Donnelly said. “We’re taking a lot of risks, which is really stressful. We’re hoping that we are able to pull them off, and I’m confident we will be, but it’s nerve-racking to make something so different because you don’t know how the student body will perceive it.”

Their ultimate goal is to give everybody a voice, which means that sometimes the “yerds,” as members of the yearbook have been fondly dubbed by much of the student body for their hard work and dedication to the book, must do a little stalking.

“We hunt people down because we know every Central student has something to say, and we just want to provide an opportunity for them to say it,” Donnelly said.

“The book represents the student body, not just two people,” Marwaha said. “It is so section editor driven that they come up with all their own ideas. It’s the best feeling when they’re in love with something they created. If they take pride, it makes it all worth it.”

Some Central students joke that yearbook is a “cult” because members of the yearbook have formed such close bonds and often work extra hours together long after school has ended.

Donnelly and Marwaha dispute this.

“Cult is a strong word,” Donnelly said.

“We’re a team, and we make it known that we’re a team, but in a good way,” Marwaha said. “[Yearbook members] disagree all the time because we’re creating art, but, at the same time, we always respect each other and always have fun. We always end up bonding over cookie cake or something.”

From thinking journalism was writing in a diary to heading the 2014-2015 yearbook, Marwaha cannot imagine a life without journalism.

“In an ideal world, I would be apart of a magazine or some publication, but I don’t know how long lasting that is or if I could sustain a career out of it for the next 50 years of my life,” Marwaha said. “But I’m definitely going to join a student-run publication [in the future].”

Donnelly plans on majoring in English, and then going into journalism professionally.

“In an ideal world, I would love to be an editor at a publishing house,” Donnelly said. “Basically, I want Ms. Timmons’ life. She went to New York and was an editor at a publishing company, and became a teacher and yearbook advisor. I think that’d be awesome.”

Though she loves working on the yearbook, Donnelly feels a different editor’s path would better suit her in the future.

“I definitely want to stay with editing,” Donnelly said, “just not journalistic editing.”

Want a sneak peak of what’s in store for the Donnelly-Marwaha masterpiece? Not a chance.

“You’ll  have to wait and see,” Donnelly said.