Liza Canaj discovered her natural role as a leader through yearbook


“Not as entertaining or adventurous” are the words junior Liza Canaj would use to describe her life without working for the yearbook.

Already the Editor of Marketing as a junior and scheduled to be Editor in Chief next year, Liza has accomplished things she never thought possible and tests herself in ways she was too timid to attempt prior to the class. In yearbook, she became the person she wanted to be: someone who makes her voice heard.

Since the beginning of high school, Liza knew that yearbook was a class she not only wanted but needed to take. When she saw the yearbook students walking around, interviewing different students, stepping outside of comfort zones, and discovering unique personalities, Liza knew she wanted to be a part of it. When she was finally able to join junior year, she was more than excited to find that her “favorite class” has “made her whole high school career” and is the “highlight of these past three years.”

However, like every class in high school, it is only as much as what you make of it, which Liza soon discovered. But like everything else in life, she made the best of it.

“I absolutely hated it [in the beginning] because no one talked to each other,” Liza said. “We were all based off cliques and groups of people. The more the year went on though, it exceeded my expectations greatly, and now everybody in that class is just one big family. I can speak for everyone when I say that everyone feels the same way.”

I don’t have time to do anything, so that makes me think harder and quicker. I move quickly when I’m under pressure.

— Liza Canaj

When joining yearbook, Liza was not looking for a class that could simply fill in a necessary VPAA, but she was looking for a community, one where she could feel she belonged.

In the beginning of high school, Liza was not as outgoing and extroverted as she is currently. But this change was not one that high school in general performed, it was one yearbook did. She found her niche of people, breaking through those initial awkward stages of interaction in order to find a place she could feel at home.

Now, she takes pride in how much she enjoys talking with people she’s never met.

“I don’t do much, but what I do like to do is be social with people,” Liza said. “[I] like to interact with a lot of people. I like to make new friends, and I’d say I’m a very extroverted person when it comes to talking to other people, being social, and being a part of a team.”

This same team and outgoing mindset is one that made her so desired for the role of Editor in Chief. In order to perform this task, one needs to be able to fill the role of a leader while remaining humble in nature. With the purpose of getting Liza used to this leadership role, yearbook and English teacher John Fisher gave her the role of Editor of Marketing.

Little did Fisher know, Liza would soon not only take this role on with expertise, but she found her own passion in dealing with businesses and hunting down sponsorship opportunities.

“I work well under pressure, and I enjoy the pressure of having to go out and sell ads to these businesses,” Liza said. “That’s my favorite part. It’s not having air to breathe, which is kind of weird– it’s what most people don’t like. But that’s something that I enjoy. I don’t have time to do anything, so that makes me think harder and quicker. I move quickly when I’m under pressure.”

But none of this success and craving for more would have been possible without the class. When Liza thinks of the person she was before yearbook, she remembers someone who was “enclosed” and introverted, rather than the overflowing abundance of sociality that she possesses today.

“I wasn’t very social at all in the beginning of the year,” Liza said. “I was a very enclosed person. But being in that class and being around all these kids that are around the same age as me, I got way more social. I was very antisocial the beginning of the year, and I was very awkward. But now, I feel like I have grown as a person mentally and have matured because of that class.”

In fact, this very “class” is not one she would consider a class at all. With all the time and work she pours into it, confined by both deadlines and business requests, Liza is forced to think of the class as more of a job than part of a curriculum.

By attempting to sell the yearbook to both students and businesses alike, Liza takes her responsibilities with anything like a grain of salt. She often takes her work outside of the classroom. Whether it is contacting various businesses or taking pictures at different games, “school-work” is never confined to just the walls it is assigned inside.

In order to maintain success in the class, she is forced to set her own deadlines, a feat that she has found to benefit her work ethic as a whole.

“I’ve had to have put pressure on myself too,” Liza said. “I give myself certain deadlines that I have to hit every single day. Because if I don’t do that, I would procrastinate. I’d say that that has helped a lot; it made me more mature.”

The class that has helped Liza gain a better work ethic and extroverted personality she also hopes will help her achieve one goal before she graduates: to be remembered as a person who always spoke her mind, even when her opinion was not shared by her fellow students– as someone who “did what she wanted to do and didn’t care about what anybody else said [because] she did the right thing.”

So far, Liza is well on her way to accomplishing this goal of becoming a memorable leader and is doing so with her role as Editor in Chief. But this class, once again, is more than just a class. It has– and is– continuing to aid Liza in new ways she discovers daily. She is able to imprint herself on people’s minds as someone who deserves to be a leader and as someone who stands up for what she believes in.

“My biggest aspiration currently is to become someone that I wasn’t in the beginning of the year,” Liza said. “To have a voice and to be heard by Forest Hills Central– by my community, by everyone around me. My aspiration is to become more of a leading role. [But], all I know is I want to be able to end high school knowing that I put some type of imprint on this school no matter the significance of it.”