Coverage in 2021: Student life ideas

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If there’s one positive that’s come out of the pandemic, it’s the chance to revolutionize our yearbooks. Instead of worrying about lost content from traditional events and topics, look at this as an opportunity for new ideas to cover your students and school.

No need to stress! We’ve got 170+ ideas to fill your pages with innovative and fresh content. It’s a great chance to feature more students than ever. And, bonus: we had so many great ideas, we’ve split this into several posts. Today, we’ll talk about student life ideas. Stay tuned for additional suggestions for academics, clubs and sports.

One final note, with the myriad of story and content ideas here, you won’t be able to choose all of them. If there’s an idea you really love, but can’t dedicate a full spread to, consider using it in your people section.


Don’t just start with August. A LOT happened since the end of last school year and it’s unlikely you were able to cover all of it in the 2020 book. Dedicate some spreads to those historical moments that happened in late spring and summer.

  • The move to remote learning
  • AP Exams
  • Canceled sports seasons
  • Canceled proms (and modified versions)
  • Ending school early
  • Finishing the yearbook
  • Distributing the yearbook
  • Honoring seniors (parades, yard signs)
  • Graduations
  • What was different this summer
  • Summer staycations
  • Summer travel (students who did venture to other cites & states)
  • Summer jobs
  • Social distancing measures
  • Summer entertainment (social media, curbing boredom)
20_Glacier Peak_theme graduation
Even if you were unable to photograph graduation, you could still include coverage in the 2021 book. Glacier Peak High School photographed a graduation cap and included quotes from seniors for an impactful spread.


(local, state, national & world)

Consider allocating space to what’s happened outside your campus. It’s been an unusual 2020 and providing a record of this unprecedented year will provide important historical context years from now. Use your judgment on what topics will be well received in your community.

  • How life has changed (locally, nationally and/or globally)
  • COVID-19 update (what’s happened since last spring)
  • Local and national protests (racial injustice, BLM movement)
  • Entertainment updates & changes (movie theaters closings/reopenings, concert/event cancellations, new songs, TV options, streaming services)
  • Political updates & changes (Democratic VP candidate selected, RBG passing, new Supreme Court justice nomination, presidential debates, Trump’s positive COVID test)
  • 2020 Presidential Election (timelines, results, student reactions)


In general, students are a stressed out bunch. Those levels have been dramatically elevated with the events of the past year. Think about adding coverage on health-related topics.

  • Student stress
  • Teacher stress & anxiety
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Balancing sleep & school
  • Meditation & staying calm
  • Exercising (yoga, walking/running, biking, swimming, exercise apps, lifting weights, dog walking)
  • Songs for stress, relaxation & exercising
20_Paetow_stress text less pics
This 2020 spread on stress from the Paetow High School yearbook features a dramatic photo illustration, impactful statistics and student quotes for a personal touch.



Being stuck at home meant we’ve become quite resourceful at tackling boredom. From playing board games with family to learning a new skill, we’re adept at keeping ourselves occupied.

  • Hobbies
  • Learning new skills
  • Board games
  • Puzzles
  • Sports activities (ping pong, frisbee, skateboarding, sand volleyball)
  • Creative pursuits
    • Chalk art
    • Painting
    • Drawing
    • Digital art
    • Photography
    • Journal writing
    • Short story & fiction writing
  • Reading
    • Best books read
    • Rereading favorites
    • Audio, ebook or paper comparisons
  • Binge-watching shows (favorites, hours spent)
  • Technology surveys: too much time on mobile devices? How much? Screen time percentages
Art sidewalk chalk spread
An ideal spread for elementary and middle school books, chalk drawing was a popular summer activity. Spread by Kel Lemons/Balfour



This is a no-brainer. It seems almost everything is pandemic related. Cover COVID-19 topics that relate to your school and will interest your students.

  • COVID-19 updates (local, state & national)
  • How COVID-19 has impacted your town
  • Social distancing measures & gatherings
  • Connecting with relatives during social distancing
  • How grocery shopping has changed (one-way aisles, online ordering, pick up & deliveries)
  • Online shopping (what we are buying, favorite shops to order from, how much we’re spending, excitement of packages arriving)
  • Pandemic fashion (comfy clothes, go-to outfits, casual waist-down for Zoom meetings)
  • Quarantine hair
  • Face coverings
    • Cool patterns & prints
    • Fashion, matching to clothes
    • Icon & celebrity masks
    • Weekly line-up
    • Different shapes & fits
    • Different types (N95, cloth, nylon, plastic face shields)
    • Anatomy of a mask
    • Mask selfies
    • Masks by the numbers (prices, how many sold, personal purchases)
    • Creating/sewing your own
    • Mask quotes (one word to describe, what it’s like to wear, athletes’ perspectives, challenge of all-day wear, favorite ones, mask mishaps)
  • Safety measures (home, school, community)
  • Personal coronavirus stories (how it’s impacted your life, survival stories, lost loved ones)
20_San Elijo_masksIn their 2020 yearbook, San Elijo Middle School included mask selfies and a photo of a seventh grader who sewed masks for her family.



Food spreads should be an integral part of every yearbook. But there’s an unique twist this year with the pandemic’s impact.

  • Cooking at home (family recipes, trying new ones, baking bread, crafting desserts)
  • Restaurants & dishes we miss
  • Online & app ordering options
  • Take out & delivery choices (favorite foods, order frequency)
  • In-person dining experiences
  • Student jobs in food industry (delivering food, working in restaurants)
  • Lunch at home vs school
  • Favorite snacks (during & outside school)


20_Inglemoor_electives food quarantine2
Inglemoor High School students shared their quarantine baking successes in the 2020 yearbook.



Not to be confused with academic coverage, there are plenty of student life-related school topics. Focusing on overall changes is a must; but don’t forget about fun topics like virtual spirit days and behind-the-scenes stories.

  • How school has changed
  • School safety/health measures
  • Back-to-school schedule changes & mishaps
  • Learning options: virtual, hybrid and slowly returning to campus
  • Virtual spirit days
  • School T-shirts
  • School by the numbers
  • Behind the scenes: front office
  • Day in the life: school nurse
18_Oak Grove_T-shirtsEven if you’re 100% virtual, a T-shirt spread is still a viable yearbook topic. This one from the 2018 Oak Grove book features a variety of school, senior, club and sports tees. 


This is the year of student voices. Let these ideas become modules on related spreads and the people section. Or, utilize them with exceptional typography, graphic or colors to transform a spread into a showstopper, wow design.

  • How has life changed for you?
  • What do you miss?
  • What’s better now?
  • #Quarantinein5words
  • Are you closer with your family now?
  • What do you appreciate more?
  • What have you lost?
  • What have you gained?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What’s been the most difficult thing to accept?
  • How have you adapted?
  • How do you combat boredom?
  • What do you do to relieve stress?
  • What were you looking forward to with school?
  • How are you connecting with friends?
  • Has the reality of school matched your expectation?
  • Expectations vs reality: school start, virtual learning, in-person instruction, classes, clubs, sporting events, freshman year, senior year, etc.
  • How did you decide between virtual or in-person learning?
  • What is it difficult to choose between virtual or in-person learning? Why?


Ahhhhh, the wonderful news is not all is lost. There are still topics from previous years that can be featured in this year’s book. These are spreads you can have lots of fun with the design.

  • Trends & pop culture
  • Food & Drink
    • Coffee
    • Sparking water
    • Water bottles & flasks
    • Favorite restaurants in town
    • Popular dishes
    • Best snacks
    • Pizza toppings
    • Ice cream desserts
    • Favorite Sonic drinks
17_Rouse_ice cream
Frozen treats made for a tasty topic in the people section of the 2017 Rouse High School yearbook.
  • Cell phones
    • Cracked screens
    • iPhone vs Android
    • Screen time
    • Funny text messages
    • Autocorrect frustrations & goofs
    • Last text message
    • Last photo you took
    • Mom or dad texting conversations
    • Favorite apps
    • Screen savers
    • Cell phone cases
    • Streaming services during school
  • Social media
    • TikTok (profiles, popularity, facts & figures)
    • Snapchat streaks
    • Twitter tweets
    • VSCO filters
    • Instagram filters
    • Selfies
    • Favorite social media account
    • Social media etiquette
    • Memes that describe your life
  • Music
    • Playlists (studying, exercising, breakups, relaxing)
    • Playlist profiles (what’s on your playlist?)
    • Favorite artists
    • Lyrics that define your life
    • Favorite streaming options
    • Music outside of school (student bands, piano players, guitar players, songwriters)
    • Guilty pleasure songs
  • Entertainment
    • Favorite streaming service
    • New streaming options (Peacock, Disney+)
    • Pluses of Disney+
    • Student YouTube channels
    • Favorite YouTube channels
    • Binge watching shows
    • Video games (top 10, favorites)
    • Book vs movie: which is better
  • Stickers & decals (laptops, flasks, StickerMule creations)
  • Keychains (unique tchotchkes, background stories)
  • Outdoor sports activities
  • Hobbies outside school
  • Pets
    • Selfies with pets
    • #Caturday
    • Exotic pets
    • Having additional time with pets
    • Pets hanging out during virtual classes
20_Claudia Taylor Johnson_pets
Claudia Taylor Johnson High School dedicated a spread to feline friends in the 2020 yearbook. Pet spreads are an ideal choice this year because of the crowdsourced images and popularity with students.
  • Fashion & Style
    • What’s your pandemic style?
    • What’s on your wrist? (scrunchies, bracelets, fitness watches)
    • Socks (cool styles, what it says about your personality)
    • Shoes (heels, sneakers, new kicks, cool colors)
    • Hair styles & dye/coloring
    • Makeup (trends, favorite looks, fake lashes)
    • Nails (polish, styles, designs)
    • Stylish glasses
    • Cool sunglasses
    • Popular style trends & prices
    • Popular & favorite brands
    • Fashion styles
    • Thrift shopping & secondhand buys
    • Designing/altering own clothes & shoes
  • Family ties (siblings, twins/triplets)
  • All in the family (married teachers at same school, students with parents teaching at school)
  • Slang (definitions, favorite words/phrases)
  • Holiday & cultural celebrations
    • Halloween (costumes, socially distant celebrations, should you trick or treat?)
    • Thanksgiving (school T-day meals, home food favorites, family gatherings, Black Friday)
    • Winter holidays (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, holiday lights, holiday music, club celebrations, winter break)
    • Chinese New Year
    • Valentine’s Day
    • Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr
  • Student jobs
  • Class rings & letterman jackets


Whew! We hope these ideas get you thinking for your 2021 coverage. If this was a lot to keep up with, use our handy student life coverage handout with all the ideas in one document. And don’t forget to check out our Balfour Exchange with more ideas and spread examples.

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