Pekin Community High School yearbook featured in ‘best of’ yearbook publication

For the second consecutive year, Pekin Community High School’s yearbook, Pekinian, has been featured in the Herff Jones “best of” yearbook publication “Portfolio.”

Herff Jones, a leading provider of graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students, publishes “Portfolio” annually. Of the thousands of yearbooks the company prints, Herff Jones selected 477 schools nationwide to be represented in what PCHS yearbook adviser Alyson Smith termed “the yearbook of yearbooks.” PCHS was one of six schools in Illinois to be selected for inclusion in the 2020 edition of “Portfolio.”

“I think the staff worked incredibly hard,” said Smith. “They strove to include more students than we ever have in years prior. Our templates were more difficult to work with than in other years because we used different themes throughout the book. The theme (of the 2018-2019 “Pekinian”) was Y[our] Story. We were trying to different students’ stories from different perspectives throughout the book.”

The featured entry from the 2018-2019 Pekinian was a sports page that Smith believes was selected for its dynamic photography and eye-catching layout. The page that appeared in the 2018 edition of “Portfolio” was “Dragon Spotlight,” a feature on the school’s talent show. Samantha Curtis, a PCHS senior and this year’s Pekinian editor-in-chief, is in her third year on the yearbook staff and is pleased to have contributed to two publications that have been featured in “Portfolio.”

“I’m very proud to be recognized, because we put all of our effort into it,” Curtis said. “It’s very exciting to be able to have something that will be shown to all the other schools.”

Senior Julia Oltmann, photo editor of this year’s Pekinian, sees it as the high school’s only living history book and takes pride in being a part of it. Being on last year’s yearbook staff was a rewarding experience for her not only because of the accolades the book has earned, but also because of the stories she was able to help tell.

“We managed to find several interesting features about students’ lives that many on staff didn’t know,” she said. “There were so many stories we had not even heard of that were more than just hitting a home run in a baseball game. (They were about) who the student was and what they wanted to be. I’m proud to be part of it because I left my mark on the school. My name is throughout that book as having written part of the school’s history.”

Curtis expects that the 2019-2020 Pekinian will be represented in “Portfolio” for the third consecutive year in 2021. The fact that the yearbook has already won a total of nine various awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Kettle Moraine Press Association and the Illinois Journalism Education Association is a highly encouraging sign.

“I think our visuals are really cool for (this year’s) Focus theme,” she said. “I also really like the word play, the layouts and the page designs. I think we’ll definitely get recognition.”

According to Smith, the key to excellence and accolades for Pekinian has been a commitment to improving the publication from one year to the next. The staff studies critiques the school received from previous years’ awards submissions and uses that feedback as a basis for establishing rules for the upcoming yearbook.

February 20th, 2020