Helen Stambelos, a Grade 11 teacher, still cherishes her high school yearbook and the memories they keep safe.
When she started teaching at James Lyng High School in Saint-Henri three years ago, she discovered the inner-city school didn’t have a budget to produce a proper yearbook.
“Unfortunately, the priority isn’t a yearbook, it’s making sure they have food, uniforms, all the basic necessities,” Stambelos said.
The arts teacher believes yearbooks are an important tool for memorializing those special high school moments.
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She formed a committee of students and launched a GoFundMe campaign in the hopes of raising $2,500, which would provide 100 yearbooks – that’s $25 a student.
Tara Limosani, one of the students involved in the project, said she’s excited to help plan out her high school yearbook
“I want this one to be really good so I can show my children I have done my yearbook and it was my last year and everything,” the 17-year-old said.
“During the year, we make memories and we want to have those for the rest of their lives, so put it in a book, have it forever,’ fellow student Iyanla Simmons added.
Stambelos said the yearbook project is important for morale as the school has struggled in the past.
Three years ago, James Lyng adopted an urban arts curriculum to showcase student art around the inner-city school.
The program is helping turn the school around and Stambelos wants that memorialized in the yearbook.
“For the grads who are involved in extra-curricular activities, putting energy into something they can look back on is a means of hope in order to move forward with what they choose to do in life,” said Stambelos.
“Even if it may seem insignificant to some, to them it means the world and that is what I want to bring to them.”
Stambelos hopes her yearbook project will make this year all the more memorable for her students.