Drive-Thru Distribution Success Stories

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Jessica Salas // George Jenkins HS, Lakeland, FL

Get staffers involved in promotion:

The drive-thru distribution was truly a different way to distribute books. I was extremely nervous about how it would work and also upset that my staff wouldn’t be able to be involved (district policy), so I had to come up with a way to still have them involved and yet adhere to CDC guidelines. I had each yearbook member come up with a way to promote the new yearbook distribution method and chose the ideas that I thought were feasible. The first step was to start promoting yearbook distribution day once we knew that the books were shipped, so two weeks before, I had each member start posting the date and times on their social media and then again a week before. My staffers received their books about three days before the rest of the school, so I posted pictures of my seniors with their senior gifts and books to help promote the book and hopefully get the school excited, while also using the chance to thank the seniors for all of their hard work the past four years.

Make plenty of signs and banners:

We planned for distribution day to be divided between classes. Juniors and seniors were from 8:30-10, and then sophomores and freshman were from 10-11:30. One of the ideas from a staff member was to have a banner made for the seniors. I had a large banner made that congratulated the seniors, thanked them for buying a book, and listed each of their names. The seniors seemed to enjoy it as I saw them taking pictures of the banner from their cars.

Add fun with DIY Snapchat filters:

We created a Snapchat filter that was active once the students drove on campus, and they were able to use it while in line to get their books. I had yard signs made that I posted along the drive-thru route that told them about the Snapchat filter. The filter was created by one of my students and was fun for the students. This is something that I will do again.

A final thought:

Overall, this method of distributing books was a hit. At a normal distribution day party, I usually distribute about 50 to 60 percent of the books. But with this new method, I distributed about 90 percent of the books.

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Shelley Hunsucker // Riverview HS, Riverview, FL

I was so nervous about the drive-thru distribution, for so many reasons — not having my yearbook kids, distributing 700 books, what if it rained? — there were so many variables and so many what-ifs. It basically came down to this: we have to do it, so how are we going to do this in the most efficient way but still enjoy the process? Here are a few things we came up with that helped with the efficient process:

First things first:

Get a good group of people to help you! Choose people who are enthusiastic and want to see the kids. It’s helpful if they also understand the yearbook distribution process is about making memories.

Pre-prep EVERYTHING! With so many books, I could not put every kid’s name on each individual book (that’s insanity), so instead, I printed three copies of the distribution list and put them on clipboards, made car signs, inventoried my supplements, organized my name plates, ordered distribution banners from HJ, made sure admin knew I needed a table, tent, cones, etc. I ordered lunch for my volunteers and got the word out (all text, all call, social media).

The process:

  • We did seniors in the morning and underclass in the afternoon. We decided we’d rather get it done in one day since we were already out there and set up. We planned an hour break for ourselves to have lunch and to get a reprieve from the sun.
  • We set up a car line. Three volunteers had the distribution lists and went down the car line checking IDs and double-checking what items were bought. We had instructed students/parents to write their name on a piece of paper and place on the dashboard. Once the ID was checked, the volunteers placed a slip of paper that had a pre-printed product type on the windshield (YBK ONLY, YBK+NP, YBK+ALL) and the car moved to the tent. (NP = name plate)
  • At the tent, all product was ready for distribution. On a table, we had a large stack of books, World Yearbooks, autograph supplements and name plates (that had been organized and placed on a sticky note with names on the top and put in a box). The car moved forward, we took the car sign off the windshield and gave them the items noted. If they ordered a name plate, we knew what to look for because their name was displayed on their dash.
  • Later that night, I combined the lists into one so I could see who had not picked up their book and to verify numbers.

What went well:

The process itself went so well! Even when there was a longer line, it moved quickly and efficiently. Everyone seemed happy and got one-on-one time with the teacher/volunteers. If there was a question or an issue, the car could pull farther up not blocking the rest of the line so I could deal with whatever was going on and the line could continue. We got almost all 700 books distributed in that one day!

What I would have fixed:

The volunteers, who I was (and am) so thankful for, don’t know the product and process like our kids do! They don’t seem to understand the stress of numbers as well as our kids do (probably because our staff works on that book all year!) I would have liked to had more time to really explain the importance of accurately checking the lists. I also would stress the importance of having a computer and your receipt book to double-check sales. As always, people will show up and say they purchased but there is no record. Finally, administrative support was critically important.

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Madeline Stone // Durant HS, Plant City, FL


First things first:

I have two big tips for distribution. First, a simple list format. Some advisers print so much extra when a simple list of names, grades and orders is all they really need. Secondly, I made a little graphic for my principal to explain (via email) how our distribution would work. A little extra, but visuals help.

Divide and Conquer:

Think of a fast food restaurant’s drive-thru. The most successful ones have multiple areas to distribute food. It allows those who want fresh fries to wait out of the way, while others who are just getting a drink to move on quickly with their day. Now apply it to a yearbook: break up your extra accessories and book distribution. I had two tables dedicated to just books. Parents/students would drive up, give their name and ID number, and my teacher helper would pass off the book and sign that it was received. If a student only had a book, they would drive happily off into the sunset.

If the student had any extras, they would be told what accessories they were and to drive up to the accessory table. We invested in yard signs (thank you, Amazon Prime) and clearly labeled each of our tables. Our accessory table helper not only had the name plates sorted alphabetically in front of them and books already wrapped in dust jackets, they also had a list of the students receiving extras to mark off that they were picked up. This could work with name-stamped books as well — keep those sorted alphabetically and away from the traffic of books without accessories.

Pro tip: Be sure to double check your personalizations before the big day. When a student ordered “Princess Pancake,” that’s cute, but if your helper doesn’t know who that student is, it can get frustrating. Write out the student’s full name on a sticky note and tape it to the name plate.


Thanks to our principal and a nifty program our district invests in, we can communicate with all students and parents directly. This system allows our administration to send out messages via email, text and phone by just using a student ID number. Before the big day, I sent my principal my eBusiness Excel document of buyers, and he sent out a message to those students and their parents about distribution.

After distribution day one, I sat down and deleted the students who picked up their books, and I sent him a new file with the remaining students. He sent out another message that day.

Don’t have a fancy system? Yes, you do. Use the Send and Sell feature in eDesign. Just make sure to change the header to “We’re in this Together” and write your message to include distribution details. In the recipient’s section, select to send to only those who bought a book. Done.

Final thoughts:

I think the only problem that I’ve had with distribution so far is not having an official cut-off date. I still have about 42 books that parents/students haven’t claimed. If I had an absolute last day from the beginning, I think it would have motivated people to come out earlier. Live and learn. (NOTE: Some schools also list a cut-off date from the start and reserve the right to sell books not picked up by the stated date. Other advisers may provide guidance for picking up books at the start of the next school year.)

The Human Experience

Embracing this concept will naturally improve your storytelling — and your readership

All right, here’s the secret: We care about people, not things. That’s it.

When it comes to yearbook copy, we want to remember how we felt about the year, not just the dates on which events happened and what their outcomes were.

Sure, it’s nice to know the football team won state, but what we really want to read about is how the senior quarterback overcame a broken leg to throw the game-winning touchdown pass.

Or how his mother ran out onto the field afterward to hug him while both cried. That’s so much more compelling than simply telling the readers the team won and the school was happy with their accomplishments.

So, how do we get these stories? Well, it’s all about the interview. If you ask the interviewee about winning the game, he’ll tell you it felt great. But then ask “Why?” Follow that with “What was the hardest thing about this year?” Or “What was the biggest surprise the team had this year?”

Those open-ended questions allow the interviewee to reminisce on the event and tell the human side of the story in addition to the outcome. We want to know how he felt about the win — and the season — and what led up to that. That’s something to which we can all relate.
Sometimes it’s even as easy as asking, “What was the dominant emotion for you this year?” And then you follow that up with the best question of all: “Why?”

When you capture the human experience, the copy in your yearbook is much more interesting, and it records what it felt like to be a student at your school this year. The cast of characters and the circumstances will make the story unique.

The stories of the year need to be told by your student body, so fill your copy with copious quotes. Let them tell the year’s story, not the writers’ words; the staff just sets the stage.

Remember, humans really do care most about people and their emotions during experiences — not things. We can all relate to how someone feels, and those feelings are what bring the stories to life.

Christ Presbyterian Academy • Nashville, TN


Photo by Preston Roten

AFTER ADMIRING THE GOLDEN TROPHY and celebrating their state football title came interviews with the yearbook staff. Adding quotes from several members of the team in the caption allowed the staff to capture more emotion and detail.


DISCUSSING THEIR EXCITEMENT and nervousness, both the copy and captions included quotes and anecdotes about the kindergartners’ preparation for the school program.


AN ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT accompanies the profile of one of the youngest teachers on campus. His voice plus those of others make the story more interesting.


THE CONNECTION between the dominant photo, the headline and the copy is reinforced when a senior runner reflects on the season and her career.

My Life Beyond Yearbooks

Giovanni Montalvo didn’t get his yearbook portrait taken his senior year at GioM Malaga Profile PicCinco Ranch High School. Or his junior, or sophomore or freshman year. He can’t really remember why. He was still interviewed for his senior yearbook and even made a video, “My Life Through Yearbooks,” (above) which has more than 19,000 views on YouTube…

What he can remember, and what the video represents, is when he finally figured out what he was meant to do in life.

“I found filmmaking the last semester of my senior year. It was too late to apply to film school, but I wanted to go to University of Texas, Austin. It was even too late for that, but I got into UT, San Antonio.”

After taking introductory college classes and not really connecting, Montalvo found himself at a crossroads. He wanted to go to a real film school, but L.A. and New York were so expensive.

“I told my parents about film school, and they said, “Are you sure? Don’t you want to make money?” Montalvo said. “When all of my classmates were pursuing careers in medicine, law or business, it was like saying, ‘I want to be a cowboy or an astronaut.’

An interesting analogy for a kid who grew up in Katy, TX, just outside of Houston – he really could have been a cowboy or an astronaut. And still, filmmaking seemed like a stretch.

Montalvo had family in Great Britain and had visited them several times. He did the research and realized it was much more economical to pursue his career in London. So, away he went to Ravensbourne University London.

Now, a 22-year-old graduate with award-winning short films and corporate video projects on his resume, Montalvo has again decided not to make the expected career move — going to L.A. to take the big leap into filmmaking.

“Other international students told me, ‘It’s easy to go home, but it will be hard to come back.’ ”

Work visas and immigration policies put him at yet another crossroads. He decided he wanted to focus on his craft and work in the industry in Europe. In early October, he moved to Amsterdam, a country that will allow him to freelance and live with fewer employment restrictions.

That’s the thing about pursuing a creative career like filmmaking, writing or design, he said.

“You’re not being directed all the time. You have to do it out of your own will and your own heart.

It’s very scary to make that decision. But, it’s that fear you have to hold and embrace. That’s what keeps you moving forward.

Regardless of whether you’re a senior in high school or a college graduate,” Montalvo said, “It’s about being firm in your decision, about being excited and keeping that excitement.”

When looking at his high school journey, and thinking about the people who influenced him, Montalvo remembers an English teacher, Bruce Hayes, whom he had for both freshman and senior English.

“Mr. Hayes had taught English in Japan. On our first day of freshman year he started yelling in Japanese. Desks were everywhere. His class was chaos.”

Montalvo realized that was part of his allure as a teacher. Students never knew what to expect.

“His philosophy of teaching was ‘think for yourself’. He embraced what the students in the class wanted to do.”

He embraced Montalvo’s budding interest in video when he had made a short film, and Mr. Hayes asked him to show it to the class. That was his first audience and his first realization that he had found something he was passionate about.

“When you’re in high school everything moves so slowly. The pep rally is on Friday. The quiz is on Monday. The test is on Tuesday. You have so many things set for you. You go hour by hour.”

Five years later, and with a sister who’s a junior, also at Cinco Ranch High School, it seems like those high school years were so short. The day-to-day stresses his sister is consumed with are so small compared to where he knows she will go in life.

“Now, I’m writing more and reading more. I think back to things that I thought were inconsequential and irrelevant, and they make sense. Even reading The Odyssey; I’m drawing on that now.”

He thinks back to the films he made in high school.

“When I made those videos, it was pure. I had nothing to worry about but making those videos. Now, my projects turn into larger and more thought-out processes. I look back to when it was just me. I had a child-like wonder. I have to keep that child-like wonder.”

But that’s not to say he has it all figured out.

“If someone reads this and thinks I really have it together. They’re wrong,” he said with a laugh. “I’m 22 now and I thought that 22-year-olds were adults, but I still feel like a little kid.”

Equal to his determination to succeed, Montalvo included the need to maintain his child-like excitement.

On set, when I talk to the crew and the actors, I always tell them, “Let’s take our work seriously, but let’s not take ourselves seriously. That makes a big difference.”


Visit Giovanni Montalvo’s YouTube channel here.

Cause and Effect


At Chantilly High School Abby Lee, Vietthao Ho, Mary Kay Downes, Nicole Re and Nia Hoq review the cover proof for the 2019 Odyssey. Photo by Kimberly Lee

Adviser Mary Kay Downes’ knowledge of and passion for yearbook earns her the coveted teacher inspiration award

Mary Kay Downes, MJE, prides herself on being in the know.
She’s advised the Chantilly High School yearbook for more than 30 years.
She is the district mentor for journalism teachers in Fairfax County, Virginia. It seems she knows everyone in scholastic journalism, so she’s often among the first to hear any scholastic journalism news.
But this surprised her.
“It was a work day, and I was in another teacher’s classroom, working on some curriculum, when my phone started blowing up,” Downes said.
She found out she was being honored with JEA’s Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration Award, an honor for motivating a pursuit of journalism education as well as longevity and achievement of other advisers.
Nobody else was surprised by the news.

“First, [on the phone] was Leslie Dennis from [the Southern Interscholastic Press Association]. I was shocked, overwhelmed and I got emotional,” Downes said. “The teacher I was working with was concerned. She asked if I needed help — and I just laughed and let her know it was all good, in a crazy way. I had no idea.”


Advisers with whom she’s worked cite her as a generous expert, a guru of foundational skills and a coach for advisers and editors alike. She already has a list of awards a mile long. Among those, CSPA’s Gold Key, NSPA’s Pioneer Award, JEA’s Medal of Merit and National Yearbook Adviser of the Year honors, as well as an array of state and regional nods.
After falling in love with pubs as a college creative, she taught for years before returning to yearbook in 1987. Since 1995, the Odyssey yearbook has won 17 awards in NSPA’s Pacemaker competition and 12 Crown honors from CSPA. In addition, the book has earned four consecutive Col. Charles E. Savedge awards.
Nominated for the honor by a former editor, Katie Eklund Frazier, CJE, who now advises in Texas, and Val Kibler, MJE, JEA’s vice president, who also advises in Virginia, Downes’ nomination included letters from students and peers she has inspired.
Honored at the spring JEA/NSPA convention, Downes will also address attendees at the annual JEA Advisers’ Institute in July.
“I was humbled by the comments and compliments,” she said. “Ours is a world filled with many great teachers who could be honored in this way.”

Mind the GutterMore from the queen
Learn about years of yearbooking from the legendary MKD on the season two premiere of our podcast, Mind the Gutter podcast.


Read about more amazing advisers in the Folio magazine story, Theme’s So True.

How Our Yearbook Went from Ground Zero to Award-Winning

How Our Yearbook Went from Ground Zero to Award Winning

I consider myself competitive, not in the sporty sense, but in other aspects of life, such as playing board games, working on projects and creating a yearbook. But I must say, it has taken me 15 years to win a Crown from Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

I had three barriers:

  1. The yearbook representative I worked with for my first seven years did not send me to workshops or camps or tell me about professional journalistic organizations (This was not Herff Jones.)
  2. I had an after school club that met once a week, which left me doing much of the yearbook myself.
  3. I did not realize the importance of having my yearbook critiqued, especially since it was a junior high school book (grades 8-9).

It was not until I changed yearbook companies, began teaching a class during the school day, attended workshops and camps and joined Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2012 that my yearbook began to take a new life of its own.

Be prepared to be shocked. I thought our yearbook was really good, or at least not too bad…

When I received our first critique, it came with many suggestions for improvement. This can be a bit daunting at first, but this is what I asked for when I submitted my book. However, this feedback would completely alter the journalistic and photographic quality of our yearbook. We received a silver medal for our first submission. With your critique…

  1. Keep the to-do list short and attainable

I decided which suggestions would be easy to change and made a short list of what I wanted to improve the next year. You cannot do it all in one year unless you want to burn out.

  1. Continue to polish and improve

The following year I added more to my list of improvements and kept the ones I had established. Although I received a bit less feedback for improvements, we received another silver medal, but our points were creeping closer to a gold medal.

  1. Receive feedback from other people

While I submitted our book to CSPA, I had our yearbook critiqued by Bruce Watterson each time we attended Georgia Yearbook Expo. I compiled his suggestions along with the others I had received to make further improvements.

  1. Go for the Gold

We won a gold medal for our 2015 and 2016 yearbook. I was ecstatic because our book was finally becoming journalistically mature. I found out a few months later that our 2015 yearbook was nominated for a Crown. When I attended the conference at Columbia University in the spring, we proudly received a Gold Crown. This past year, our 2016 book received a Silver Crown.

  1. Analyze Yearbooks

After winning a Crown, I was asked if I would like to analyze yearbooks. This is great opportunity because it allows me to see other books, glean ideas, make suggestions and praise what yearbook staffs are doing well. I enjoy helping others improve their yearbooks, but most of all, it reinforces what I need to be doing myself. Reviewing yearbooks is time consuming if you want to be thorough, but it is beneficial to the staff because you want to honor the time they have put into their book and also the finance it costs to become a member of these journalistic organizations.

A Few Yerdy Tips:

  1. Start with one journalistic organization because they can be expensive to join. I suggest Columbia Scholastic Press Association and National Scholastic Press Association. Another organization is Journalism Education Association, which allows advisors to submit student work and awards students for outstanding achievement.
  2. If you are on a budget, have a professional or consultant at one of Herff Jones’ camps analyze your yearbook. It is nominal fee compared to joining an organization.
  1. If you are worried about submitting a middle/junior high school yearbook, do not let this stop you. These yearbooks are just as important as high school yearbooks and your staff needs to know that with the right tools and knowledge they can go from ground zero to award-winning.

Teaching the Real World Skills They’ll Need

Teaching the Real World Skills They'll Need

Over the past few months, I have taken the time to network with industry experts on LinkedIn.  Through LinkedIn, I have made contacts and have also taken my students into the industry. In doing so, I have provided my students with the opportunity to see how the skills they are learning in publications are transferable in the real world. In addition, each and every business we have visited has offered to keep in contact with my students with possible internship opportunities down the road.

Teaching the Real World Skills They'll Need

This opportunity allowed me to teach (and reiterate) some basic life skills like…

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Do your research before we visit
  3. Ask meaningful questions
  4. Say please and thank you
    (And, my all time favorite…)
  5. Send a handwritten thank you note

Teaching the Real World Skills They'll Need

Teaching the Real World Skills They'll Need

Teaching the Real World Skills They'll Need

I believe my students now see the value of the skills they have learned. In addition, instead of facing end-of-the-year “senioritis,” I now have a more engaged classroom. I have students, on their own, making business cards, creating resumes and applying for summer internships in the industry — none of this is required or suggested by me. They no longer see themselves as “just high school students.”

Ironically, one of my students has an interview with a local magazine on Friday. The student’s mom told her, “You better tell them you are not a real journalist; you are just a student.” That mentality has to end. Changing that mindset all begins with the expectations we set for our students and the experiences we are able to provide them.

Square One: How Yearbooks Take Shape

Square One: How Yearbooks Take Shape

He stood on the workshop stage talking about his calling of putting “souls on paper,” and then explained a simple methodology for allocating the real estate of a yearbook spread, providing more opportunities for those soulful stories to emerge.

He is Steve Kent, our Herff Jones yearbook representative and consultant in Roanoke, Va., and the approach he discussed is something he named Square One.

“It’s about turning zeros into ones,” Steve said several times in his presentation referring to students with zeros next to their names in coverage reports.

Those students’ hearts will sink when they turn to the indices in the backs of their yearbooks and discover their only contributions to the book – and of the year as recorded – was sitting for a portrait. A mention elsewhere, and an additional page reference beside their names, tells them they were part of something. Part of the community. Part of the year in the history of their schools.

A logical – and easy – formatting approach for placing photographs and words on pages, Square One is based on reimagining the “architecture” of pages into a modern grid. This grid allows for both interchangeable modules of content and separation space between them, if the staff so chooses.

Many high-profile yearbook staffs have been using grid-based formatting for decades. Review the pages of a Crown winner from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association or a Pacemaker winner from the National Scholastic Press Association, and you’ll see a dedication to souls on paper that has won awards. But what makes Square One a breakthrough is its ease of use, its focus on getting more and more students onto pages and the speed with which contemporary spreads can be created. Its ease and speed free staff members to explore more stories, more photographs, more facets of the story of the year and to tell that story through more voices than ever before.

To say “we’re changing how yearbooks take shape” is a bold statement, and Herff Jones embraces it.

We’ve leveraged our network of staffs, gained input and tested this approach for years before launching it today, May 1, 2017.

We are taking the benefits of grid design to our international family of schools. We have enabled our industry-leading eDesign online program to embody this grid, this architecture. Herff Jones’ staffs may now select the Swiss grid while setting up their books in eDesign, or download formatted templates for InDesign.

And, just like that, the contemporary architecture is in place!

Staffs using eDesign or InDesign may choose from our libraries of pre-built, interchangeable modules or create their own.

New advisers will find in Square One the confidence they need to begin, and veterans looking to change things up will find a refreshing approach with which to inspire their staffs.

In spring design clinics and workshops, an army of Square One “evangelists” is ready to share this approach. From the islands of Hawaii, across the Great Plains to the southern-most beaches of Florida, excitement is growing for Square One.

Nath Kapoor, a sophomore and editor-in-chief at Eastside High School in Taylors, S.C., said, “An ‘aha’ moment occurs when the jumble of picas and gutters and modules and white space comes together to form a well-designed page so the stories about people who matter in your community can shine.”

Nath’s “stories about people who matter in your community,” is another way to describe what Steve Kent’s calling to put “souls on paper.”

The real estate on the page, the grid, the mods, the materials and surrounding support are all instruments for including more students in the yearbook more times.

Sharing meaningful stories and capturing “souls on paper” is why so many yerds and advisers love what they do. Those tasks can be easier when you start with Square One.

So — About That Picture You Downloaded from the Internet…

So — About That Picture You Downloaded from the Internet…

As my staff developed coverage both this year and last to capture the historic 2016 presidential campaign, they found themselves needing high-quality images of the candidates. One of my students said in February 2016, “Well, they’re public figures. Can’t we just download images from the internet, you know, if they’re high quality enough?”  

The answer, due to copyright laws, is of course, “No.”  

Most of the time.

In December 2002, an organization called the Creative Commons released six copyright licenses that allow content creators to find a way to license their work beyond the then-traditional “all rights reserved” copyright that most people are aware of. Now nearly a decade and a half old, the Commons’ licenses give creators the opportunity to share their work, and other creators to access works that might otherwise be unavailable to them.

In our case, our students needed a set of portraits of the Democratic and Republican primary contenders, and we didn’t have the means for a yearbook staff member to capture those images first-hand. Instead, we turned to Google, searching “creative commons candidate portraits,” and found that the first hit was from — an article about college student Gage Skidmore. Skidmore, an Arizona State University accounting major, shot and posted tens of thousands of CC-licensed images of the candidates in recent years, and has well over 30 million hits at his Flickr page, where users can download and make use of his images, provided they credit the work under a Creative Commons attribution share-alike, or “CC-BY-SA,” license. Skidmore’s photographs were used by President Trump’s own website, in addition being featured at, the Washington Post and via the Associated Press.

Staffs and advisers interested in learning more about the Commons’ licenses can go here:

You can see our staff’s primaries and campaign page here:

So — About That Picture You Downloaded from the Internet…

The Creative Commons licenses can be applied to more than just photographs. Our video team at Tesserae has used CC-licensed songs as music beds for our advertisements and other content, sourcing music from the Free Music Archive, BenSound and SoundCloud, among others. Remember that the burden is on you, as the user, to do your homework with each album, song or other creative work to ensure that it is licensed to you under the Creative Commons, and that you do due diligence on crediting the creators with bylines and attribution in your videos, pages, spreads and books.

Push and Empower your Students

Push and Empower your Students

The cover and front and back endsheets arrived (and, yes, we ARE a summer delivery book.) They were BEAUTIFUL! I was so impressed by my students work that I wanted to shout from the rooftops. In an effort to provide my students with real world opportunities, I decided to ask the school administration if my students could present their theme concept to them. Why not, right? This is what they would have to do if they were working for an ad agency and had to pitch their campaign to a potential client. The principals said yes and anticipated presentation day.

Sixth hour arrived. My four editors and one assistant editor were standing in the hall nervous about what they were going to say. When I saw what was going on I went out into the hall and put a kybosh on their nerves. I explained to them that this was their opportunity to showcase their work for the year and to explain their vision.

Thirty minutes later the editors returned to the classroom with confidence, but they were also empowered. The energy in the room was so contagious. The administration was so impressed, they asked the editors to prepare a video explaining the theme to show to the entire school. In addition, they wanted to allow the students to create a mini-lesson which would help add depth to our theme by getting student feedback. Then, they wanted us to advertise how students can get their hands on this book. The administration wants us to infuse our theme into the fabric of our community.

By empowering my students to showcase what could be a controversial theme, we got the administration to buy into it. In addition, the students gained valuable presentation skills. I call that a win-win!

Varsity Brands is Searching for the Most Spirited Yearbook

Varsity Brands is Searching for the Most Spirited Yearbook

The Varsity Brand School Spirit Awards opened on January 23 and include lots of categories that students, faculty and groups in your school could be eligible to win — including a new, and very special category named “Most Spirited Yearbook Award.” You know how it goes though — if you don’t play, you can’t win. But in this case, if you don’t enter, you can’t win. So what are you waiting for? The book your staff is slaving over right now could win an award even before the last deadline is submitted. Here’s what you need to know:

  • All entries must include a 500-word essay explaining why the nominee (the 2016-2017 yearbook and yearbook staff) is deserving of the award.  
  • A letter of recommendation is also required from a principal, administrator or community leader.
  • Two photos of the nominee and their work
  • Optional: links to additional media (including but not limited to press releases, videos, photos, articles, etc.)

Here is an official description and additional, specific requirements:

The most memorable school yearbooks have a theme that sets it apart from other school years – a theme that captures the specific spirit and personality of that group of students. Themes based on school pride are perennial favorites. We’re looking for a pride-themed yearbook that publicly celebrates achievements large and small, group and individual contributions to the school.

  • Nominee must be a high school
  • Essay should include specific examples of school pride from the 2016 or 2017 yearbook
  • Nominee must upload up to 5 pages from the 2016 or 2017 yearbook

Your staff and the work you do deserves recognition. The deadline to enter is February 13 — good luck!