Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari yearbook staff members receive honors

Staff members of Tucumcari High School’s 2020 Yucca yearbook, “Let’s Get Lost,” received several honors from Quill and Scroll’s Yearbook Excellence Contest and earned inclusion in the current Quill and Scroll’s PowerPoint presentation recently sent to schools across the nation.

Recent Tucumcari graduate Mariah Ruvalcaba-Vaquez was the yearbook’s editor, and Victoria Stuchel was its adviser.

Three Yucca staff members were placewinners in five entries in the Yearbook Excellence Contest, headquartered at the University of Iowa. Such honorees received an award letter, a National Gold Key, eligibility for a college scholarship and inclusion in the second level of competition, naming “the best of the best.” All five entries were named Sweepstakes winners and included in the PowerPoint that featured the winning spreads and judges’ comments.

Finishing runner-up in the student life photo category (Class B under 750 students) was sports editor Julie Archuleta, a junior, for her photo of Gabriella Gray and her father during commencement. The judge said Archuleta “captured a beautiful connection between the student and her father” and called her timing “perfect.”

Business manager Angela Vasquez, a junior, also finished second for her photo of sophomore Emma Rogers in the club category. The judge cited Vasquez’s ability “to capture an expressive facial expression,” plus including the “hand clasp in the bottom left corner.” Rogers was participating in the Student Council’s blood drive.

Vasquez finished third for the English spread, which the judge called “solid reporting and writing, offering insight, emotion and detail.”

Ruvalcaba-Vasquez earned two third-place awards. One was for her double-page senior recognition ad that “effectively captures the culture of the community and the personality of the individual.” The second was for a thematic concept developed through photo illustration that was featured throughout the book — three outlines of color around a dominant photo that, the judge said, “demonstrates the importance of trying a different approach to capture attention.” Archuleta also took the wrestling photo that was submitted.

Stuchel said finishing the 2020 yearbook when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close across the nation was tremendously difficult.

“As a fall delivery book, losing all the spring sports and activities, including prom, senior week and graduation, seemed almost insurmountable,” she said. “Many of the seniors had not yet turned in or even taken their senior photos, plus we kept losing staff members.”

Ruvalcaba-Vasquez said, “This book seemingly presented all the challenges we could ever face. Not only did we do it in a pandemic, but with a team of three, plus an adviser.”

Ruvalcaba-Vasquez now is a freshman at Eastern New Mexico University, majoring in early childhood education.

Archuleta explained why finishing the yearbook was important: “The remaining three staff wanted to finish the book because we had put too much work into it for it not to be published. It was a tough year, but it was all worth it in the end. It truly feels like an accomplishment.”

The book earlier was rated as a Gold Medalist by Columbia University in their Scholastic Press Association. The judge said, “Despite the challenges the 2019-2020 school year presented, the Tucumcari High School staff and adviser helped create a memory book that will truly be cherished and should be proud of their work on this publication. It is clear the Yucca staff, though small in number, did not lack passion or perseverance.”