Creating yearbook has changed 2011.09.14

Written by David Green.

yearbook_staffBy DAVID GREEN

New technology, new ideas, a whole new approach to the high school yearbook.

Production has changed dramatically over the past 10 to 15 years, said Morenci yearbook adviser Heather Walker.

“With digital cameras and online design programs, almost everything is done on the computer—writing copy, cropping images, laying out pages, proofing and sending final pages to the publisher,” she said.

Clipping clip art, counting characters to determine the fit of a photo caption, laying out pages by cut-and-paste are tasks the current staff has never faced. It’s all old technology that existed before they came along to take their turn at recording the school’s history.

Changes in how the book is produced have led to new options in how events are covered. Last year’s staff—six of them are still part of the current team as seniors—whole-heartedly accepted a new approach and produced a Revista like none seen before here.

The 2011 yearbook followed more of a magazine style, said editor Carolyn Blaker. Smaller photos—but lots of photos—more words, and whole new approach to how students and events are covered.

“There’s a lot more writing in it,” Blaker said, “and there are a lot of photos in it. It’s definitely more work.”

Where past yearbooks consisted mostly of photographs and captions, staff members have written numerous short articles.

“”We’re forcing kids to read the book, which is good,” Blaker said, “because they’re finding out they enjoy it. There’s a lot more about what kids do.”

The staff has changed the way they think about a yearbook, Mrs. Walker said. One of those new approaches involves a concerted effort to get photos in of as many students as possible. The goal was to have at least three photos of every student, and they came close to meeting that objective.

“When I was on the yearbook staff in high school—and even more recently—the yearbook was often a reflection of the staff in terms of coverage,” Mrs. Walker explained. “The staff determined who was in the book and which events, clubs or sports were most important. It was perfectly acceptable to have a book filled with images of the same students over and over. This was part of the appeal of being on the staff—controlling which photos were featured.”

The staff is constantly coming up with creative ways to capture students who aren’t involved in extracurricular activities.

“In this way we try to capture a more accurate picture of the make up of the total student body,” she explained.

Some students are still going to appear more than others because they’re involved in more activities. That’s inevitable in a small school district.

Chronology

Another big change in the approach is to cover events chronologically, giving a running account of what transpired during the school year.

In the past there were categories, with a section for sports, a section for clubs, etc. Now a school organization that’s active during the whole school year will receive more coverage.

“It’s a more accurate historical record of the school year, more journalistically sound, and it also affords more opportunities for coverage,” Mrs. Walker said.

The staff approached the past school year in what it called triads or three-week intervals. 

“We covered events that happened during each three-week period,” Blaker said. “It’s more about what the kids do.”

Another break with tradition is to provide some coverage of what students are involved outside of school.

It takes some effort by the staff to keep abreast of what’s going on in the school and community.

Photos

A final major split from the past is to accept the submission of photos from other students and from parents.

“This is a change in the industry overall,” Mrs. Walker said. “In fact, Jostens, our publishing company, makes this easy by offering an on-line portal where parents can log on and upload their photographs for use by the yearbook staff.”

“It helps a lot when you have only eight people on the yearbook staff,” said new member Michaela Merillat.

Parents are more likely to attend every event in which their child participates, and some of those parents are capturing good images.

Parents should contact Mrs. Walker by calling 458-7502 or sending photos by e-mail to hwhite@morenci.k12.mi.us. Parents and students can also put images on flash drives and take them to school.

Many readers never noticed the theme of “three” that’s pervasive throughout the recent Revista, but Mrs. Walker doesn’t see how a student could open the book and not see the overall change that was made.

“I know our staff is really proud of the work they did last year and I hope, more than anything, that our readers can appreciate the lengths we went to to try to include every student—whether the most popular, the most athletic, or the most academically gifted,” she said.

• Books are on sale for $60—the same price as in recent years despite the change to an all-color book. Middle school student photos are included.

Advertisers account for 60 percent of the yearbook revenue stream and staff members will soon begin approaching business owners for sponsorship again.

“We’re thankful for all the individuals and businesses who buy ad space year after year,” Mrs. Walker said.

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