Dream Big

Dream Big Hear it from Ann

It’s always fun to study the new releases, noting what staffs are doing well and how trends are shifting. Whatever time I allot to reviewing books, I always wish I had more.

During summer planning, it’s easy to imagine ambitious additions.

Gatefolds galore? That’d be cool.

Theme-related coverage strategies you know would be a lot of extra work?  Might be a challenge you could accept.

Personalizing each book? Wow! They’d love that.

But then, as production begins, reality sets in and those workshop dreams can get hazy. If you plan from the start to make those special extras happen — and commit to making them important — the impact can be as significant as imagined. If your kids are excited and willing, you have the power to make those dreams come true.

If the plan involves adding pages, foldouts, special-order papers or inks, cover and endsheet upgrades, work with your rep to manage your budget. Then, your business team can determine how to offset those expenses.

Set reasonable dates for progressive goals to ensure you’re working to stay on budget. Not meeting those sales goals may mean you won’t be able to afford the extras.

If your ambitious idea does not become someone’s assigned responsibility, there’s a greater chance it will fade into the hustle of production.

Make the project a priority, and watch it flourish.

I know you face the challenge of serving many audiences. You want the students to love your book when it arrives and to cherish it more as the years pass. It’s also important for parents and the greater school community to see you’ve created a comprehensive and accurate record of the year.

You can make sure that happens by dreaming big as you plan for your next masterpiece, putting plans in place to ensure success and following through to delight your readers.

Your efforts will be remembered every time those readers grab their yearbooks — whether it’s over the summer, in five years or 50. And your staff will be remembered, not just for preserving the memories of the year, but for the extra efforts you made to create a book that stands out.

 

Texas High School

 

Texas High School Tiger

Texarkana, Texas

Even though its first century as a school was ending, staffers focused on the future with the theme “To be continued.” Each of the 10 sections open with a fold-out divider introducing a student profile on the following spread. In the middle of the book, a short-trimmed magazine of school history shows all 100 book covers and provides news from each year. Coverage of this book continues in Take Note.

 

Toby Johnson Middle School

 

Toby Johnson Middle School Jamboree

 Elk Grove, California

The coverage spanning the bottom margin was perfect for the theme “Eventually everything connects.” Staff members linked students to one another with attributes like “who lives on the same block as,” “whose favorite place in the world is Italy like” or “who has braces like” until the final entry, that linked back to the first name in the opening. With six students per spread, nearly 400 became part of the theme development.

 

Westfield Middle School

 

Westfield Middle SchoolThe Scrapbook

Westfield, Indiana

Themed “It’s ours and it’s everything,” this book included a personalized tri-fold tipped onto a theme-driven spread inside. Completing almost 750 individualized tip-ins meant every early buyer had a one-of-a-kind book. With several full-color images, a quote from a friend, a six-word memoir the students shared (not knowing how it would be used), the special feature pleased students and parents alike. Those who were waitlisted received a similar tip-in with spaces and instructions on how to personalize so their books had extra coverage as well.

Staging a Yearbook Rescue

Staging a Yearbook Rescue

Advisers Jim Govreau and Morgan Miltner both submitted their final yearbooks March 9. But, they still have a book to complete.

Govreau, of Newsome High School, and Miltner, Strawberry Crest High School, both in Hillsborough County, Florida, and their staffs teamed up to do the impossible — create an entire book in two weeks for a neighboring school in need.

With no cover, no pages submitted and an adviser who started in the second semester with no yearbook experience, the Tampa area staff was about to finish the year without a yearbook.

“Morris Pate, my rep, talked to me about the situation early in the school year, and I visited the school in December,” Govreau said. “The computers weren’t great, there were about four or five students on staff, and nothing was completed.”

By mid-March, the staff had some photos from the school photographer on CDs, but that was it. Pate brought the story back to Miltner’s and Govreau’s attention.

They knew they needed to stage a rescue.

Staging a Yearbook Rescue

“My first thought was to throw my students at it,” Miltner said. “I have 66 on staff, why not send them to help. That was late Tuesday night. I talked to everyone and asked what they thought. At first the kids thought I was crazy, but then they said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”

Ten of Miltner’s staffers and four of Govreau’s took a field trip on March 29 to remedy the situation. The advisers worked on eDesign from their respective schools while staffers traveled to the school to gather content and put the book together.

“I was watching eDesign and I texted them at one point and I said, ‘Stop writing.’ We can’t spend any more time writing. We need to get photos in there now,” Miltner said. “We have so many rules and requirements for every spread, every caption, everything has to be done journalistically. It was hard for them to stop doing what they are used to so the work would be done quickly. It was amazing to see them making game-time decisions on how things would be covered and how the spreads would take shape.”

Both Govreau and Miltner teach journalism curricula and produce what we know as data-driven yearbooks. Staffs monitor and measure coverage by comparing student rosters to sources included. They also determine topics and structure using real-time student preferences. So, there’s a process.

“This is much more than a basic ‘picture book,’” Herff Jones Hall of Fame member Pate said. “These kids’ pride wouldn’t allow them to do that.”

Pate said his advisers also know students today demand new plot lines. They and their students follow Herff Jones’ “Zero/Zeros” practice and Square One™ design approach, ensuring as many students as possible are included. They believe every student has a story and both say they feel the responsibility to tell those stories.

Because of this training, photographer and first-year Newsome staffer Elliot Morgan volunteered right away.

“I said I wouldn’t mind going and helping these people out,” the senior said. “I know our staff is capable, great writers and overall great people. And I know from going to events with Strawberry Crest, they are the same. I knew we could put this together and make something lasting for the school.”

On March 27, the now-combined yearbook staffs uploaded portrait pages. By lunchtime, two days later, they had submitted 72 pages. Give them a couple more days, and the book will be completely done.

Staging a Yearbook Rescue

“When we saw all of the spreads were empty, we were shocked something like that could even happen,” Newsome editor Ashley Arndt said. “Mr. Govreau asked if we were willing to help, if there was anything we thought we could do. At first, I thought one day wouldn’t be enough. Once we started breaking it down though, it became a lot more manageable.”

Miltner said the students were nervous to go into a school where they did not know anyone and roam the halls, pulling students out of class for interviews and photos. But as they got to work, they started having fun.

“Students would come in the classroom throughout the day and look at the computer, and I would ask if they were affiliated with the sport I was working on,” Arndt said. “Even if they weren’t, they would give me the phone number of someone who was. So, I have random people’s phone numbers from the school now from asking for interviews.”

The community took note.

“They arranged the yearbook dream team,” Pate said. “They fought through nightmarish, rush hour Tampa traffic, organized themselves, took photos, conducted interviews, wrote stories, headlines and captions, assembled pages, dazzled the administration, faculty and students, and by about 4:00 p.m. had pretty much completed a yearbook.”

It sounds like a lot to ask from high schoolers, but these aren’t just high schoolers. They are yearbookers.

“We have a culture in the program,” Miltner said. “You are part of something bigger.”

Countdown Craftiness

Countdown Craftiness

‘Tis the season to take a step back from the computer.

That’s right. Put down the spreads. Take one step back. Now another. Now a deep breath.

You can keep editing until every word loses meaning, or you can take Alicia Luttrell’s advice.

The yearbook adviser and librarian from Maryville Junior High in Maryville, TN, knows we all get antsy before the big holiday break.

“There’s a time when we all have to buckle down and work on yearbooks,” she said, “but there’s a time to have fun and get creative.”

Last year, Luttrell put her creativity to work.

“I had an old tabletop tree and decided to give it a new home in the yearbook room. I also had four small Herff Jones ornaments to display and wanted to create more to take home.”

Luttrell’s staff was thrilled, she said, to see art supplies.

“My students were excited when they walked in and saw glue, tinsel, clear ornaments, yearbook pages and paint brushes on the table. I love to get them working on something different. To get them away from the everyday activities of looking at spreads. Things get a little messy, and that’s okay with me.”

They made mini paper chains and decoupage ornaments from old yearbook spreads as well as “swirly” and tinsel ornaments to add color and sparkle to the tree.

She suggests, “When ornaments are ready, tie a piece of jute or other string on the cap loop and include a cute tag with students’ names. This is a way to remember students who created these ornaments.”

Take on the Christmas ornaments or make an activity of your own. It might just spark the creativity you’ve been hoping to find in the void of the computer screen.

Yearbook Has Its Own Special Language

Yearbook Has Its Own Special Language

Many of us have attempted to learn a foreign language at some time or another and if you’re like me, you’ve done absolutely nothing with it so you’ve lost most if not all of what you knew.

Students who join the yearbook staff are often surprised that they need to learn so many alternative meanings for such common words. For example, in yearbook terminology, a  “ghost” isn’t really scary and a “ladder” isn’t used to reach tall places. A “widow” isn’t a woman who lost her husband, a “slug” isn’t a slimy creature and a “signature” isn’t your name written in pretty cursive.

All of the terms mentioned above and a whole bunch more are actually very important to understanding everything involved in putting a yearbook together so you should plan to spend some time at the beginning of the year reviewing the terms and their meanings. You could even make it a game.

How do you go about teaching yearbook terminology to your staff? Tell us in the comments below.

Creating Order from Chaos

Creating order from chaos

Anyone who has ever visited a publications staff room knows that there is a lot of activity happening all at once; the fact that the chaos doesn’t seem to affect anyone present is the sign of a well organized staff and classroom.

Two of your highest priorities when you begin the year will be assigning staff positions and providing job descriptions to everyone on staff and organizing the room so that tools are easily found and put away after use.

Let’s start with the room itself. A quick trip to Pinterest and searching “organizing the yearbook room” or “organizing the classroom” will yield some very creative and affordable ideas like this and this just to get you started. If you’re like me and you want some additional more costly items like comfortable seating or a mini fridge to store drinks for late nights, you may want to make a big WISH LIST and post it prominently in your room for parents to see on back-to-school night. You never know when someone has an extra something that they’d be willing to donate or when someone who is really handy would be willing to build you something. My portable mail center was awesome thanks to one of my staff member’s fathers who was a carpenter.

Your staff room will become a home away from home for you and your staff so you’ll want it to be an inviting, comfortable space that functions like a productive office. Brainstorm with your staff during the first few days about things they would like to have in the room to make it just perfect.

Once you’ve got your room in order, you’ll want to provide your staff with an easy-to-use but comprehensive manual that they can reference BEFORE they come to you with a question about fonts, photography check-out instructions, design or type styles, etc. Having a good staff manual will keep you from having to answer the same question 36 times and allow the staff to be more self sufficient.

Providing direction to your staff and in your room will help control the inevitable chaos that makes a yearbook staff room come alive and allow you to maintain control over the process.

Snow Adversity 2016

Snow Adversity 2016

As I sit in Centreville, Virginia with literally tons of snow surrounding me and my school, I suppose I should be in panic mode about our fourth deadline looming. Will school even be open just one day this week? We are on our fourth consecutive day out as I write; most think we’ll be out the remaining three days this week.

I did send in our final copy count and the business team did submit the nameplate list before the blizzard of 2016. LESSON: When asked for information, comply ASAP.

We are 20 pages ahead. LESSON: Always submit extra pages the first two or three deadlines.

My editors have been texting and using social media to remind staffers of what must be done as soon as we return. LESSON: It is their deadline, not yours!

My rep has been supportive by sending out messages of comfort. LESSON: Trust your rep!

I have been experimenting with new recipes, knitting, reading and movie watching. The point is this: we can’t avoid what nature deals out. It is best for our collective mental health to go with the flow, bank sleep and be ready to go full force upon return. I have urged the editors and staff to clear calendars for work this coming Saturday. We will make it. Always have. Cheers

Did you have a similar experience? Tell us about it!

Refresh — Ten Ways to Refresh and Rejuvenate

Refresh — Ten ways to refresh and rejuvenate

Recharging your internal battery is as important as making sure you have food in the fridge or gas in your car. Finding time or ways to do that are easier than you may think. Consider trying any or all of the following before you get back into full swing of another school year.

  1. Ditch the electronics. Studies have shown that being so connected isn’t the best idea for our brains. We need to have real down time away from electronics so put the smart phone down and go for a walk.
  2. Treat yourself to a spa day. Relieve the tension that has been built up in your muscles from deadlines by visiting your local oasis. Need help finding a spa, visit www.spafinder.com  If massage therapy isn’t affordable, try hydrotherapy in your own tub. Put on some soft music, light a few candles and use some bath salts or essential oils to create a respite at home.
  3. Read something that is candy for your mind. Whether it is a murder mystery, a self-help book or some just for fun fiction, choose something that will help you escape from your hectic schedule, even for a short time.
  4. Get in touch with nature. Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin” is vital to having strong teeth and bones and a healthy immune system and is free just spending time outside.
  5. Get physical. Walking, running, swimming, biking, canoeing, whatever exercise will help wake up your psyche by releasing endorphins which will also help to put you in a better mood.
  6. Talk to a friend. Picking up the phone and actually talking to someone about something other than work is a great mood lifter.
  7. Laugh, a lot. Laughter really is the best medicine so finding ways to increase it in your everyday life will only make you feel better…and might even be contagious.
  8. Try a new hobby. Look for classes that interest you at local shops and schools. With schedules that accommodate working people (and that are often inexpensive),  you can try something new and see if you like it before investing in all the tools and equipment.
  9. Travel. While visiting far off lands may not be in your budget, simply taking a ride in the country and having lunch in a new locale offers you a chance to see what’s outside your little area.
  10. Rest and relax. Getting enough sleep can have profound effects on your stress levels and immune system. Sleep time is when your body and immune system do most of their repairs and rejuvenate to make them ready for the next day. Proper sleep (7-8 hours a night) will enhance your body’s ability to fight infection. Never feel guilty about sneaking in a nap if time allows.
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