Sponsor a Senior with Yearbook Purchase

The Story Behind the Campaign


Marvin G. Garcia Sr., Journalism Advisor

Earlier this month, while promoting the Manual Arts 2020 yearbook in a Zoom meeting, a harsh reality surfaced when a colleague asked for the price of the yearbook. When I said, “$67.99,” and noticed the widening eyes on my colleague’s face located at the top right corner of my computer screen, I immediately jumped to defend the price. 

“Yes, it is pricey. But this does include taxes and shipping, Ms. Duke,” I said, “In fact, the shipping has been lowered down to only $2.99.” 

“Mr. Garcia,” Ms. Duke responded, as her small box turned into the central image on my computer, “that’s $67.99 that many of our seniors cannot afford.” 

My mind instantly revisited previous email correspondences with a senior in my English class. This senior was one of the students who actually responded to my “How Are You Doing?” email. In her response, the student asked for an extension on all her assignments because both her parents lost their jobs during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In fact, this student had to work more hours at her current job in order to pay the bills at home and put food on the table. Yes, our scholars are truly working harder. Below is her email. Untouched.

“Good afternoon, Mister. I only tell you that in this closing of schools it has not been easy because many people were left without work and among those people, for my dad and my mom, from my job, they gave me work, but you have to pay the bank accounts. and many other things also the rent so the majority of payments fell to me. the good thing is that my mother lives in only three people, my mother, my father and I, so for the food we have enough and we try to eat only what is necessary without excess of anything. I know that I have not sent you any homework but I would like to know if I still have the possibility to send you my homework because sometimes it does not give me time but if it gives me an opportunity, I will finish it.”

Clearly, we know our seniors are going through some hard times. But my mind was struggling with struggles because my students are also working hard to finish the yearbook.

Week after week, I am impressed with the hard work and dedication of students in my yearbook class. Their perseverance is palpable in every yearbook page. These scholars are working harder to collaborate online in order to reach their goal. For a recent Zoom meeting, I decided to stage a learning experience so their leadership skills would shine. I told Chief Editor Daisy Albarran that I had to attend another Zoom meeting during the same scheduled yearbook meeting.

I lied.

I only wanted Daisy to organize and facilitate the meeting. That full hour meeting will forever be ingrained in my mind. It was beautiful to hear these fourteen young people taking turns to discuss serious issues like deadlines, feedback for the yearbook cover, and plans for the next meeting. When the next part of the agenda was “Yearbook Sponsor Campaign Report (Garcia),” Dulce stepped in to summarize the proposal.

Mr. Garcia, M

“During our last meeting we talked about launching a yearbook sponsor campaign,” Dulce announced, “And we talked about possibly asking teachers if they would be willing to sponsor a senior by purchasing their yearbook because, honestly, I don’t think everyone can afford to buy the yearbook.” 

And at that moment, all those struggles in my mind seamlessly came together as puzzle pieces connecting in symbiotic motion to land directly in front of us all.  The real task at hand is figuring out how to bear with these struggles: our colleagues will identify our shortcomings, seniors will work more hours to pay the bills, chief editors will take charge, and leaders will step up to the plate.

My colleague and friend, Ms. Duke, was absolutely correct to surface a harsh reality. Yes, many of our seniors cannot afford $67.99, especially in times like these. But it was her next suggestion that planted the seed to this organic movement.

“Hey, maybe we can ask teachers to sponsor a senior by buying a yearbook for a senior. I mean, $67.99 is a lot for me, but I’m willing to buy two yearbooks.” I considered it, but I honestly didn’t think it was possible.

Other teachers in the meeting chimed in saying they would definitely sponsor a senior. Ms. J shared that this group of seniors is significant to her because it was the first group she taught as 9th graders.

“This is the first group I have witnessed from beginning to end, ” Ms. J stated.

Later that evening, I told my wife about Ms. Duke’s plan, and before I mentioned the word sponsor, my wife said, “since Ms. Duke is buying yearbooks, why don’t you ask all teachers if they can sponsor a senior?”

I was cautious.

Later that week, I received an email from Mr. and Mrs. Safotu in response to our yearbook Google slide promotion. Mrs. Safotu asked if it was possible to “sponsor a senior with a yearbook.” 

Again, I felt that symbiotic motion of trials and tribulations coming together. But I realized that they weren’t moving together to make it more difficult to handle. A possible solution was being harnessed in this process. The truth is that this whole sponsoring campaign naturally unfolded before our eyes, and I thank everyone for helping us bring to surface another positive consequence of being away from each other. In fact, sponsoring a senior is one way the Manual Arts community can break the laws of physics and truly come together in Toiler spirit.

July 2, 2020 Update: Sponsors are revealed in The Official Manual Arts High School 2020 Virtual Graduation Ceremony. Watch the entire ceremony below, and view the special yearbook sponsor announcement at the end.

July 4, 2020 Update: After selling more than 101 yearbooks (103 to be exact), Manual Arts High School is awarded the Green Yearbook School Badge!

TreeRing Green Yearbook School