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Ask The Observer: What happened to the Saint Mary’s yearbook?

and | Monday, January 23, 2023

By Genevieve Coleman and Rose Androwich

For years, the Blue Mantle was the College’s yearbook compiled annually by a staff of Saint Mary’s students.

However, in the spring of 2022, the Blue Mantle was not produced. 

In an email, former interim vice president of Student Affairs and current dean of students Gloria Jenkins explained why the yearbook was permanently discontinued. 

“The decision to permanently discontinue the yearbook was made after thoughtful consideration and was not an easy one to make,” Jenkins said. “But it was necessary. Rising printing costs combined with lack of student participation in yearbook creation led to the decision in late 2021 to no longer publish The Blue Mantle.”

Jenkins also mentioned that in the past, the yearbook served as a way to compile pictures. However with changing technology, she claimed there are digital alternatives to sharing memories.

“Other considerations added to the decision,” Jenkins stated. “Among them was a change in the way student memories are captured. In previous decades, an annual yearbook was a way to encapsulate moments in time in a way more appropriate for the era. Today’s technology does a better job of capturing those moments for students in a more immediate and familiar manner.”

Because the class of 2022 did not receive an issue of Blue Mantle, Jenkins noted that the College assisted seniors in creating a photo book specifically designed for their class. 

“The yearbook was not produced in 2022. Instead, seniors were given a unique senior-only product consisting of a photo booklet that captured some of the memorable moments of their year,” she said. “This was a one-year only product that the College helped support, due to the decision to discontinue the yearbook.”

Jenkins stated future classes will have the opportunity to create their own memory book, including the class of 2023 who are currently in the process of making one. 

“Moving forward, seniors have the option of creating a memory book,” Jenkins explained. “Current seniors can assist by supporting the students working on the memory book for the Class of 2023 as needed.”

Students’ response to the end of Blue Mantle

Marirose Osborne, an alumna from the class of 2022, recalled her memories of the Blue Mantle long before she attended Saint Mary’s. 

“My mother also went to SMC (class of ‘89) so she had a bunch of older SMC yearbooks from when she was in school. I also had my own from previous years at SMC,” Osborne said.

Osborne discussed how she felt the memory book was “sweet” but lacked the larger purpose of the yearbook.  

“I thought it would have been nice to have a yearbook with more content than just a smaller memory book, especially as most of the things that I did with my friends over senior year weren’t really represented in the memory book,” she said.

Osborne also said she would’ve liked other classes to be featured in the yearbook. 

“I think I would have liked to have a bigger yearbook that had more room to represent other classes as well, especially because I had a lot of friends who were not seniors [during] my senior year and I kind of missed having something for them too,” she said. 

Abigail Pinnow, another member of the class of 2022, noted her frustration about Blue Mantle being discontinued without advance notice from the College. 

“I think it was toward the end of the year. I offhandedly mentioned I was looking forward to seeing the yearbook, and one of my friends told me she heard they weren’t making one,” she said. “It’s really kind of a bummer to have received a copy of every year from my time at SMC to then not get one for my own senior year, especially with no warning.”

In addition, Pinnow explained that yearbooks have the durability that the memory book did not.

“I feel like a huge part of yearbooks is being able to have this thing on your shelf that you can look at every now and again to reminisce about what happens when you’re that age,” she said. “The memory books are easily damaged and forgettable. Both of my friends I asked about it did actually receive a memory book — they just didn’t realize it … because it’s not that much different than a copy of the Courier [College magazine] in terms of durability and longevity.”

Pinnow echoed Osborne’s thoughts on the benefits of having a publication that covers more than one class. 

“I think one of the great things about yearbooks is that you’re still able to celebrate and see photos of your friends in other years,” she said.

Creating the 2023 memory book

Senior Grace Marcheselli first learned that Blue Mantle would not be produced this year when she was taking her senior portrait. 

“I heard about it when we took our senior portraits. I thought we were supposed to pick a pose for the yearbook,” she said. “ [But] I had heard there might not be a yearbook anymore so I reached out to student services, and they said that there is no more Blue Mantle.”

Fellow senior Emily Rusch said she decided to help Marcheselli make the memory book after Marcheselli explained that Blue Mantle had been discontinued. 

“I first heard about it through Grace. I think we were just talking and she brought it up,” Rusch said. “I had told her that I did yearbook in high school and was editor-in-chief… so I would be willing to help out with it.”

Marcheselli said the memory book is an important way to maintain alumnae connections. 

“My mom also went here, and… since I’ve been here, if I met a new friend who had a mom that also went to Saint Mary’s, we’d pull out her yearbook and go through and see if she graduated with her,” she said. “We need memorabilia to remember all our classmates, because years down the line, it might be fun to show our daughters, if they come here or if we have friends and family.”

Marcheselli also explained how seniors and their families can contribute to make the memory book easier to compile.

“Recruiting all the photos that we need as well is going to be a big challenge,” she said. “We actually created a form that will be going out soon, hopefully, with links so seniors can send in their own photos that they have, as well as senior ads. Parents got postcards over break [to buy them] and that’s actually going to be a big part of the book is those senior ads.”

As pictures are submitted to Marcheselli and Rusch, Rusch noted enjoying the variety of events that have been covered. 

“We’ve gotten a great amount of random pictures from the fall semester,” she said. “Just seeing different things that seniors do in their free time is cool.”

Rusch encouraged students to continue sending photos because they do not yet have an official deadline for submissions to be closed. 

“We do not have a current set date because we’re planning to include senior week and commencement. The sooner the better, especially for events that already have passed in the fall semester,” Rusch said. “It’ll be a greater likelihood your picture will be included if we get the picture sooner.”

Contact Genevieve Coleman at [email protected] and Rose Androwich at [email protected]

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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a graduating senior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature, creative writing and secondary education. She was an Assistant Managing Editor for the 2022-23 term.

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About Rose Androwich

Rose Androwich is a junior majoring in creative writing with minors in journalism and English literature. Rose grew up in Berwyn, IL. Outside of The Observer Rose enjoys drinking lattes, writing, and discussing literature. Rose can be reached at [email protected].

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