Bladen returns to direct yearbook program

Will Sherwood

After taking a five-year hiatus, Jennifer Bladen returned to the school to head the yearbook program.

In her time away from the school , she acted as the Director of Communications for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and consulted nationally in journalism education. Bladen has been in the yearbook sector since 1998. At the school, she watched Vox Populi become a Pacemaker Finalist and win a Silver Crown while also heading the journalism, student government and debate departments.

Bladen has a master’s degree in Journalism Education from the University of Missouri, along with a bachelor’s degree from California State University San Marcos in English.

Bladen’s wide variety of passions led her to the yearbook industry. One of Bladen’s greatest passions was working in leadership education.

“I was the kid who was invited to leadership development conferences and camps starting in junior high school,” Bladen said. “It is my great passion to teach students, teachers, employers, employees how to communicate compassionately, delegate effectively and reach their fullest potential as individuals and a team.”

Bladen speaks about the upcoming school year

When asked about her goal for the 2021 Vox Populi, Bladen said her goal is the same as it is every year: to include at least two photographs of every single student, teacher or faculty member. She noted how that could be a challenge in a virtual world and said that virtual learning does make it harder to reach the staff’s yearly goal.

Bladen said that in the past five years, new technologies and strategies have emerged in yearbook production. She said she has kept up-to-date with all of the latest strategies, even as the yearbook world has changed over the years.

“It’s been my job to stay on top of trends and new developments,” Bladen said. “That being said, none of us could predict this 100% virtual fall. It’s nice to have an entire community of yearbook advisers, editors, students and experts with whom to brainstorm and strategize.”

While she acknowledged the challenges of running a yearbook production virtually across two campuses, she said she realizes how Zoom can foster relationships and bonds even at home.

“We found through yearbook camp that Zoom will, in fact, make us a more cohesive yearbook staff,” Bladen said.