Ask Mike: The El Paso Workshop
Written by Sarah Scott
A note from the producer: This episode of Ask Mike was recorded during the recent yearbook workshop held in El Paso, Texas. While editing the episode, I fell in love with the border community, despite never having visited. The love Mike Taylor has for El Paso is also evident. The young people interviewed in this episode are amazing human beings. They create great yearbooks, and I suspect they will make a big impact in the world over the next few years. They also share a love for their city. Just days after we released this episode, El Paso was struck by tragedy. Even though I don’t know much about the city, the passion these students have for their hometown is enough to know it’s a good place. Much love to the community and those affected by this tragedy. – Sarah Scott
Mike Taylor, CJE, spent much of the summer traveling the country to yearbook workshops. One of those was the El Paso, Texas, workshop run by Walsworth rep Lori Garcia. During the workshop, Taylor interviewed several students who hold leadership roles on their yearbook staff. He asked them about their yearbook experience, what they expect for their 2020 yearbook and what they’re nervous about in the upcoming school year.
You can listen to the episode at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts/ask-mike or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
In the first half of the episode, Taylor spoke to editors from Burges High School, Franklin High School, El Dorado High School and El Paso High School. In the second half of the episode, he interviewed editors from Coronado High School, Malbec High School and Americas High School in Texas, as well as Gaston High School just over the New Mexico border.
Why were you chosen to be the yearbook editor-in-chief?
“This is my second year on staff. Last year I joined as a photographer and I really gave it my all. It was something I was really passionate about, and I think Miss Monroe, our adviser, really saw that in me,” Burges High School co-editor Anabella Mireles, said.
“I guess I was chosen because Tina, our previous editor, taught me everything she knew. I really love yearbook, so I really put my all into it and I wanted to design it,” Burges co-editor Sameer Ali said.
“There were about three different people who were potential editors-in-chief,” El Paso High School editor Jessica Barrett said. “We actually had to go through an interview process, and [our adviser] ended up picking me. I think because I’m well-rounded. I know how to do design, I’m good with writing, I’ve shot a few events. So I know a little bit of everything and I work well with all of the staff, and I think that’s something that needs to be found in a leader.”
“We also had an interview process. Through that interview process, our previous editors asked us questions about how we could lead the group and make the yearbook better at El Dorado,” Lia Rodriguez said. Her goal for the year is to make a better book than last year.
What made you want to become a leader in your book’s program?
“I just think it’s so cool to see this product come together, and I just want to lead that process. It’s just so amazing, from the bare bones of the book to finally at the end of the year culminating into something beautiful and something you’re proud of,” Coronado High School editor Elise Ehrlich said.
“I never expected [my adviser] to make me an adviser my junior year,” Americas High School editor Alexia Vazquez said. “It’s not like I was bad at what I did. There’s a reason she chose me as an editor. There’s something she knows you have inside you. That’s why you’re here.”
“I had mixed feelings about yearbook. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to be a part of, but it was something I needed to fill my schedule. I started out as a freshman my second semester and my teacher realized I had a talent for feature writing and caption writing, editor skills in general. So she asked me to become part of the team,” Austin High School editor Danya Garcia said.
“I’ve always liked journalism. I started the yearbook committee when I was a freshman, so four years. I didn’t become an editor until I was a junior, so last year. And then I decided to run for editor-in-chief,” Gadsden High School editor Emy Lopez said. “Being editor-in-chief means you get to make a process your own, and you get to design it how you want, and be open-minded to people experiencing the same thing.”
What’s your biggest worry or fear?
“My biggest fear is, since El Paso focuses on tradition a lot, I’m kind of scared to dip my toe into different aspects and go beyond what we’ve shown in previous years. One of our themes might be ‘Break the Pattern,’ which is something that we want to do with this book,” Barrett said.
“I’m really worried about keeping the staff motivated, because there’s a lot of us,” Franklin High School editor Angelina Steel said. They had about 200 students on the yearbook staff in 2019.
“This year, we wanted to be much bolder than we have in previous years,” Rodriguez said. “It may be a fear of being too bold, but at the same time, we want to take those risks.”
What’s your plan for the students who won’t put in the work?
“I don’t sugarcoat anything. I’m very blunt,” Montwood High School editor Albert Silva said. “If I see someone who’s not working, I’ll take them outside because I believe you shame in private, praise in public.”
“You have to let them know the responsibility we’re putting in their hands. Your work is going be published. You have to take it seriously,” Vazquez said.
Why is El Paso so cool?
“I think it’s just a really humble place,” Silva said.
“I think what makes El Paso so humble is the diversity that it carries within itself. It’s not too big it’s not too small,” Austin High School editor Danya Garcia said. “[People] don’t take the time to understand the culture we have.”
You can hear more from these students on the Ask Mike podcast at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts/askmike or wherever you get your podcasts.