- Greenfield Junior High
Greenfield Junior High students capture the school year’s biggest moments in award-winning yearbook
It is no easy task capturing the significant moments of a school year in words and photos. The moments must be documented in great detail, so that years down the road when a reader skims over the pages it will be like they are experiencing those moments for the first time. Only the brave dare to take on such a challenge. Across Gilbert Public Schools campuses, a courageous few rise up every year to take on this incredible responsibility.
“Our main goal is to put the best of us in print, so that families can enjoy it,” said Jennifer Parsons, an English teacher and Yearbook advisor at Greenfield Junior High School.
Parsons oversees the award-winning Ingenium Yearbook. The 2020-2021 edition was recently honored as a Gold Crown Winner by The Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Only four junior high schools in the nation earned that recognition. Ingenium was also selected as a Pacemaker Finalist by the National Student Press Association.
“It’s super important that it’s not just done, but it’s done well,” Parsons said.
Seventh and eighth grade students in her class spend about a year putting the book together. They start by brainstorming prospective themes and cover designs. Yearbook editors attend training sessions and build design templates for their classmates. Consultants help students with journalistic writing, layout techniques, and fine-tuning their content. The process is extensive and requires all hands on deck.
“Really, it’s like we’re creating a history book. I try to impress upon the kids that these aren’t just stories about their friends. These are stories about their school, and their creating a piece of history that will sit on a shelf for years to come,” Parsons said.
Ingenium is not your typical school yearbook. It far surpasses the yearbooks that have come before it. Ingenium is a true collectible with its professional magazine style layout, bold and witty headlines, captions and anecdotes, abundance of photos, timelines, survey results, and so much more. While flipping through the more than 100 pages, any reader would easily be impressed by the book. It’s so professionally executed that readers can sometimes forget that it’s the work of junior high students.
“I tease the kids that people are paying for their homework,” Parsons said.
Greenfield Junior students say that working on the yearbook is not for everyone, because of the amount of time and dedication that it takes to complete the lengthy project by the deadline. However, the students that do stick around say the hard work is worth it, especially when the yearbook receives recognition.
“It definitely makes you feel good and feel like you didn’t do all of this for nothing,” said Maizy Pulsipher, an eighth grade student and the editor-in-chief of the 2021-2022 Ingenium Yearbook.
Pulsipher joined Parsons’ class as a seventh grade student. She enjoys classes that keep her busy, and her yearbook experience has allowed her to develop new skills.
“We’re definitely learning how to write copy, captions, and different kinds of things. We have to write in present and past tense. We’re also learning about different angles with photography. You also get to learn a lot more about the school and meet new people,” Pulsipher said.
Logan Richter, another eighth grade student, serves as an editor. Richter says the class made her a more sociable person after joining Greenfield Junior later in her seventh grade year. She also developed more skills while working alongside Parsons.
“She is really good at motivating you. She is really easy to talk to and ask questions,” Richter said, “I think it’s a really good class to get involved in.”
Both Pulsipher and Richter are still unsure if joining the Yearbook staff is something they will do in high school, but Parsons says she has several students who continued pursuing journalism and communications through college. Some have written and thanked her for all they learned while in her class.
“She even wrote me a little note just about how the class taught her confidence, competency, and life skills,” Parsons said while speaking about one of her former students who recently graduated from Northern Arizona University.
Every year, the final draft of Ingenium is turned in to the publisher in March and students get their copies by May. As the school year comes to a close, Parsons and her editors begin working on the next edition. The yearbook cycle continues with a new vision, but the same purpose – chronicling the best of Grizzly Nation for future generations to see, read, and appreciate.