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How to DIY your school portraits

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Rachael Blumenschine, senior, Editor-in-Chief

Spoiler alert: It worked!

Let’s get one problem at a time out of the way this year. What problem do you think I am referring to? Theme? Coverage? Content? Clubs?

No — I am referring to the one issue that more often than not affects our sales, and that is the portrait section. If your photo is not in the people section, why on Earth are you going to buy the book, right?

So during my first week of school, I had a plan. We were going to teach the entire student body how to take wonderful mugshots and ask them to submit them.

Sound great?
Nope.

When I tried to get my own media staff to do this, they did not do so well.

At this point, I decided we needed to take the portraits ourselves because under the COVID-19 guidelines, outside vendors are not allowed into the building.

Here is how we did it without a professional company and with student photographers.

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Emily Hannuksela, junior, Newspaper Editor

Getting the right setup

My first concern was for the safety of my staff and our students. I wanted to do it in a space that was safe for both our in-person kids and our virtual students. We decided to set up spots outside under our bus loop awning.

Students would walk outside from their classes on Thursday, the in-person photo day, and drive up on Friday, the virtual day. I will explain how both went after I mention our equipment.

I needed to make sure that we had enough equipment (I am not endorsing any particular products — these just fit our needs). I ordered a few more Nifty 50 lenses so that I had four of the same kind of lenses. We used Canon cameras (see below for more specifics and cost).

Next, I wanted to have backdrops that were affordable and easy to store once we were done. We purchased four collapsible 5×5 backdrops that had blue/grey reversible sides. They attached to tripod light stands with simple clips I bought from the hardware store.

The last concern was consistent light. I already had a few speedlite external flashes, so I only had to get softboxes. However, I also wanted to give my student photographers the ability to move away from the camera, so I bought four remote triggers for the flashes. Trust me these will pay for themselves in the years to come.

I know this sounds like a lot of money, but I promise you, if you have four cameras and four tripods, that is most of the expense already taken care of.

On the week of the photo shoot, I took my classes outside to practice several times, and we even made a video explaining to the rest of the school how it would be done.

 

On the day of the photo shoot we had four stations with three people at each station: a photographer, a slate writer and a photo assistant. In total, we needed 12 people working the event.

Students approached the slate writer and told them their name. The slate writer wrote down their name and camera letter and gave them the sheet. The student sat down in front of the backdrop and held up their slate for the first photo. They disposed of the slate into a box and took off their mask. The photographer told them to place both feet on an “x” marked on one side and took two photos. The photographer then told them to put their feet on the “x” marked on the other side and took two more photos.

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Kailer Garner, junior, holds the backdrop as the photo assistant.

The assistant made sure that the backdrop stayed steady and that the flash was firing.

We saved all of the photos from the four SD cards on an external hard drive. We then went through the eight folders, four for in-person students, four for virtual students, and used Adobe Bridge and Photoshop to rename them and crop them. We then uploaded them to eDesign and SmugMug. Our parents will be able to search on our SmugMug account to purchase them and they are kept private with the use of their student ID number as their password.

That’s it. I always wanted to try this, and this is the year that if it fails, who cares?

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Alessia Ingargiola, senior, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the payoffs: Your kids are shooting the portraits. Your kids are shooting the portraits. Your kids are shooting the portraits.

Before, this has always been an under-appreciated section — the staff was only marginally proud of it. Now they can’t wait to see it all come together.

When we asked our staff how they felt it went, they said they thought our students were much happier because they knew we cared about them having a good photo. Usually, the professional company has to rush them through. But this year, the students didn’t feel rushed with our staff photographers there.

I learned a couple of other things. A rainy day, as long as it doesn’t get your equipment wet, is a great external lighting day. And portrait photography is one of the best ways to get a shy photographer to come out of her shell. The student cannot do this job if she does not speak to the subject.

The payoffs were immense. The stress was good. The students felt very proud.

Here is a list of equipment and costs for one setup.
Required:
Backdrop: Kate 5×5 Collapsable Backdrop ($89)
Stand: Impact Light Stand 6’ ($19.99)

Only Other Things Required But You Probably Have:
Camera: Canon T7 ($449) – We used our old T5i and 70D cameras
Lens: Canon EF 50 mm F1.8 ($125) Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 ($59) – Yongnuo worked fine.
Camera Tripod: Which kind doesn’t really matter but you need a tripod. You can use a $29 or $290.

Things That Would Be Nice To Have:
Light: Yongnuo Speedlite YN600EX-RT II for Canon Cameras ($138)
Softbox: Angler BoomBox for Shoe-Mount Flashes 26″ ($59)
Remote Flash: Vello FreeWave Mini-Stand Flash Trigger Set ($24.95)

 
Chris Waugaman
Prince George HS, Prince George, VA
@royalsmedianow

 
 

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

DistributionPlanMap

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.

Communicate:

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.)

It’s a Small World

The magic of yearbook lives on.

We all know the traditional functions of a yearbook. Of course, it’s a memory book, a history book and the year’s consummate photo album. Without a doubt, it serves as a record and a reference tool, too.

We’ve asked, “If it’s not in the book, did it even really happen?” so often that students begin to echo as soon as we begin speaking.

But one of the lesser-discussed YBK impacts is perhaps the most amazing. It’s not uncommon to hear an adviser say a yearbook is magic.

A long-time guru said it best with this:

“If you’re covering the year right,” Col. Charles Savedge would say, “the yearbook is as magical as Mickey’s kingdom. There — no matter whether you’re 4 or 24 or 64 — you’re always a child. Yearbook is just the same,” he’d continue. “When you open that book, you’re right back on campus in the coverage year… if you’re doing it right.”

So true. But there’s another aspect of the magic that’s less obvious and so much more mind-boggling.

Yearbook — not the book itself but the culture — actually makes the world smaller every day.

I recently experienced this (again!) myself. In a completely non-work situation, I mentioned my work with Herff Jones and yearbook staffs from coast to coast. “No way,” gushed the woman across the table. “I am the original yearbook girl.”

And while the others looked on, puzzled, she launched into her YBK history. Suddenly, we were connected and had lots to discuss. You can find Patricia’s story on page 23, alongside stories of other former editors.

It’s common at college media conventions to meet former high school staffers who fondly recall their experiences. Many times, the conversations begin when our booth swag causes flashbacks to previous events or workshops. Often, those visits end with a text to a former adviser or rep with greetings and “thanks for all you taught me.”

A few weeks back, a friend called with another world-shrinking-via-yearbook story. While at a wedding in Tampa, he’d been introduced to the groom’s cousin, a high school volleyball coach from North Carolina. His litany of questions about her school made her ask how he knew about so many schools in so many places. He explained he’d worked with yearbook staffs for years. Guess what? Jill was on yearbook in high school. Where, he asked? Colorado. What school? Overland. Imagine her surprise when he said, “I know Kathy Daly, too.”

The fact that another wedding guest knew Daly, a long-time HJ adviser and special consultant, was surprising to the former yearbook editor’s mother.

No surprise: Yearbook constantly removes degrees of separation.

And I love that. It makes me smile that yearbook and yearbookers matter — even years later.

Ann Akers, MJE

A yearbook marketing, sales and people-person, Akers believes that yearbookers everywhere can eliminate degrees of separation if they ask the right questions.

How Susan E. Wagner High School Does Distribution

For more than the last 20 years, Susan E. Wagner High School has hosted a yearbook distribution celebration. Every year, we choose a day at the beginning of June to distribute yearbooks to our graduating class. The event allows the seniors an opportunity to see their fellow classmates (current and past) and a chance to spend time with each other.

2:30 pm. Doors Open. Each senior is lined up in one of the 4 alphabetically situated lanes ( A-G, H-M, N-R, S-Z). Upon coming to the front of the line, each student must provide a form of ID. Once the ID confirms the student, the student gets a wristband, a yearbook and is allowed entry into the school cafeteria.

3-5:30 pm. Once inside, the seniors find tables that allow a good spot to sit down, catch up with classmates and sign yearbooks. In addition to the empty tables, there are tables full of a different variety of wraps, salads, and water bottles. The food is for the seniors to enjoy while signing each other’s books. While they eat and sign books, there is DJ playing the hits the seniors love to hear. When the seniors have signed every book, they exit the school and are greeted by an ice cream truck. The wristband identifies the senior to the ice cream operator.

Important: The event is held at 2:30 pm on a school day in order to allow our faculty to attend the event. Many of our seniors want the faculty who were a crucial part of their four years to sign their book. Our Principal is always present to say a few words on the microphone and to sign books, as well.

It is important to make the distribution of yearbooks a celebration. We don’t want the seniors to get their books and immediately leave the premises. That would limit the signatures they get. It would restrict them to only the people they find themselves around. It would prevent them from getting signatures of friends from their first three years of high school and the signatures of faculty they haven’t had contact with in the last three years.

The celebration is a thank you from the school to the graduates.

BASH PELINKOVIC
Susan E. Wagner High School Adviser • Staten Island, NY

 

New Adviser?

You’re not alone

All across the country, there are teachers in their first and second — and third — years as advisers who get to the end of the day and think, how in the world? It gets easier, but until then, here’s some advice.

TAKE IT ONE SPREAD AT A TIME

Conquer the workload by planning and charting out mini-deadlines for your students. Whether you decide to team them up or assign work individually, make sure they know that deadlines are safety nets. Without deadlines, the work keeps piling up.

FIND A FRIEND

Chances are, you’re the only yearbook adviser in your school and no one else quite “gets you.” Look for another adviser in your district or area. Perhaps your rep can help you find others who would be willing to take a text or phone call when you need a lifeline.

ASSIGN EVERY LITTLE THING

Reward staffers for all the little (thankless) jobs with weekly grades. Updating scoreboards with Friday night’s game, checking in with the Spanish Club sponsor, recording the marching band’s latest awards — it’s easy to gather incrementally, but tough to hunt down later. And, pics or it didn’t happen.

DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL

There are lots of ways to yearbook, and we have loads of resources to help you find the way that works for you. Look for our weekly emails or go to herff.ly/adviser-assistance to see them all.

 

Notes for Great Editors

Find your truth in these gold standards

Your time is now. You’ve spent years working hard to help produce incredible yearbooks, but now you’re the EIC. You might think this is your opportunity to kick up your feet and watch everyone else do all the work. What you may not realize is that this is the most important job you’ve ever had. Here are truths of the most successful editors:

They know the importance of HAVING A PLAN. They think about what needs to get done, and they set up a plan to make it happen, working after school or during lunches with their adviser to ensure the publication runs smoothly. Their plan isn’t just for the yearbook staff, but for themselves. Highly successful EICs plan their own time, even in yearbook. They ask themselves, “When will I help other staffers?” and “Do I have a plan to get my own work done?”

They are the editor they needed when they were a staffer. Strong EICs don’t just happen without a lot of reflection. They think back to their first days on yearbook and remember what it was like knowing nothing and having everyone freaking out about deadlines. They are empathetic to the trials of being a yearbook staffer and are willing to help teach staffers skills, instead of taking it on and doing it themselves.

They write things down. Not just a note in their phone, but they put notes everywhere they or others might need to see them. The act of writing something down makes the memory process both visual and kinesthetic. A hand-written ladder gives a more concrete understanding of the book — and your plan. A planner with deadlines helps with time management. Some of the best editors I’ve ever had, covered the edges of their computer screens in sticky notes.

They had a note for everything and even color coded them so they knew what was important. Once the task was done, they were able to get rid of that note.

They go above and beyond while managing a life balance. We get it. You have an entire courseload, not just yearbook, but think of this as your first full-time job. You are managing a staff and meeting real-world deadlines while handling things you need to tackle outside of your happy little yerd world. A strong editor knows that good enough is neither good nor enough. This is where we circle back to the third point! Develop a planner system where you can manage your other class assignments but still leave room for your job. Leave a legacy for others to rise to in the future.

They still remember to have fun. Yearbook is unlike any other class. The relationships you form during your time in yearbook can be transformational. You are creating one of the most amazing things any high schooler can do, and you’re stuck together. Tensions can get high when everyone is stressing over that December deadline. Sometimes we just need a break. Proper planning allows time for fun activities for your staff. The social well-being of staffers is just as important as the skills needed to create a yearbook. Your staff is your family, and the best way to support each other is to laugh together.

KATIE MERRITT, MJE
Darlington School • Rome, GA

The Art of the Interview

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It’s so much more than just getting a quote

I had the privilege, for several summers, of teaching at journalism workshops with Kathy Craghead, the late (and very great) long-time yearbook adviser at Mexico High School in Missouri. She often told the story of looking up from her desk and seeing a yearbook staff member preparing to exit the room.

Her question: “Where are you going?”

The student’s answer: “To get a quote.”

Ms. Craghead likened this to a student leaving the room to get a Coke: Put your money in the machine, out pops a cold can; walk up to a source, get a quote. The end.

But getting a quote is not the same as conducting an interview that will result in full, detailed responses from a student or teacher. Details that will make your yearbook copy come alive and be worth reading, not just on the day your book comes out, but also 10, 20, even 30 years later.

First, you must cover an event at the event. You cannot write about a game, play or concert if you are not there in person, from its beginning (or even before) to its conclusion (or even after). Sending a text a month later and asking questions such as, “What was your favorite part of homecoming?” doesn’t provide anything more than a canned response that could be printed year after year — after year.

If you’re covering an event, you have to show up. You have to see the sights, smell the smells, feel the chill in the air at a football game, hear the audience crack up at the line delivered by a freshman at the spring musical. Those details will add to your copy.

Talking to your sources at the event allows you to provide perspective along with their immediate reaction. Have a yearbook staff member follow a photographer as she shoots an event and interview the photographer’s subjects immediately. Asking for a response of the just-crowned homecoming queen at halftime elicits much more detail than asking her to comment six weeks later when you’re finishing the spread.

While you need to prepare a list of questions, be flexible. If your source provides you with information you didn’t expect, ask a follow-up or two.

And consider ending with this, no matter your topic or source: “Ten years from now, what do you think you will remember about this event/game/occasion?” That question provides perspective and allows your source to see and share the big picture.

Tony Willis
Cathedral HS • Indianapolis, IN

 

BREAKOUT:
FIVE TIPS FOR CONDUCTING AN INTERVIEW

Be prepared.
Collect background information and research (and this might include talking to individuals who you never quote in your copy) and preparing questions.

Be there.
Conduct the interview where the event occurs. Interview the drum major as she comes off the field at the BOA Grand Nationals, not three weeks later in the school library.

Be flexible.
Yes, be prepared, but don’t just stick to your list of written questions. A good interview is a conversation, not a question-and-answer survey.

Be in the moment.
Take complete, detailed, handwritten notes and also record the interview. Don’t depend on technology to do your job.

Be organized.
As soon as possible after the interview is over, review your notes. Listen to the recording and transcribe the interview, both your questions and the source’s answers. Doing so is the key to getting the correct information and accurate direct quotes

 

 

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.

HEATHER NAGEL, CJE
Christ Presbyterian Academy • Nashville, TN

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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.

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

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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.

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

Ybk: It’s a Big Deal

‘Jumbos’ help with campus relevance

It’s hard to guess exactly why the buy-rate at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, Kansas, is nearly twice the national average, but it’s not hard to understand how important culture and tradition are in the equation.

Throughout the school’s history, students have had the option to request a yearbook at registration, and that tradition alone delivers about 1,000 orders for the staff. But the staff works hard all year to keep Illumination front and center inside the school.

Making distribution a big event is definitely a factor. The books are traditionally presented to seniors first, at their celebratory picnic. Back on campus, the other students receive their books the same afternoon at an all-school event in grade-by-grade waves.

“It’s a great tradition,” said Deborah Glenn, CJE, Blue Valley West adviser for the last 10 years. “In the end, the whole school gathers back together to sign books and reminisce about another year.”

But throughout the year, there are jumbos, poster-sized prints of candid photos, posted all around the school. The idea presented itself more than five years ago when the staff watched a documentary on Pete Souza, a photojournalist and former White House photographer with Kansas ties.

“It was kind of funny,” Glenn recalled. “At one point he was explaining these ‘jumbos’ he’d hang — and change out every two weeks — in the White House.

We all just looked at each other and asked why we had never done that. We have all these great photographers and the benefit of a great photo services team in the district office.

Now, we send them PDFs of staff favorites, some in the book and many not, and they print out 14″ x 20″ slicks for us.”

They order two copies of each print, so staffers can deliver one to the subject of the image.

“We try to remind everyone on campus that we have photographers out there all the time capturing their memories,” she explained.

There might be as many as 50 jumbos on display at any given time, and Glenn estimates the staff has delivered thousands to those pictured.

“It definitely increases excitement for the book on campus, and we’ve been selling out in recent years,” she said. “We truly have just one copy left this year and we’ll be taking it to convention for Best of Show.”

 

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Photo by Photo by Reese Wheeler

CELEBRATING THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, the yearbook staff prints poster-sized versions of its favorite photos and posts them around the school.

 

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Photo by Alexa Crouse

THE TRADITION and build-up to delivery day mean that the whole school wants to participate — and that means book sales are strong at Blue Valley West. Even though the picnic was rained out last year, seniors filled the gym floor to enjoy the yearbook.

 


 

ANOTHER TAKE

Traditions and twists are both factors in selling more yearbooks

As an alum of the yearbook program at Columbus North High School in Indiana, adviser Roth Lovins, CJE, smiles when he and his Log yearbook staff uncover successful ways to sell more copies.

They work hard, he says, to create a great record of the year and they want as many students as possible to have a copy of the book so those memories will be accessible forever.

“We’re always trying new things to sell more books,” he said. “More reminders in and around school. More messages sent home. Messages on more channels. They are all a part of our plan.”

Now in its second year, Lovins introduced a four-book package which allows parents to purchase a set of yearbooks for incoming freshmen.

“There’s some additional record keeping,” he admitted. “But it’s worth it because they’ll never be disappointed when we sell out, they don’t have to worry about forgetting to buy and they save some money. And we have the guarantee that those students are buying all four books.”

As word spreads among families, he hopes the package becomes a tradition that lasts. “It just makes so much sense,” he said.

Other times, the staff looks for something unexpected. Whether it’s chalking huge sales messages on the walkways at the main entrance or papering the commons with order forms just before a price increase, they want to remind people that there is limited time to purchase a yearbook.

“It’s finding more ways to get the word out,” concluded Lovins. “And making the book as easy to buy as possible.”

 

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Photo by Kaelin Hanrattie

CHALKING A MESSAGE at the school’s main entrance reminds Columbus North students to buy a book.

We’ve All Said it Before

…and the truth of the mantra still holds

If you’ve been a yearbooker very long, you’ve probably been in a conversation — or 15 —about how yearbook is forever.

You’ve likely preached it as you work with newbies — and when you’re reminding experienced staffers they can do better. Your mantra about creating the only permanent record of the school year probably echoes in the heads of staffers every time they recall their yearbook experiences.

And that’s a good thing. It’s what brings former editors back to visit when they return to town for homecoming or holiday breaks. Their presence is more than a chance for them to encourage your current staff to build on the foundation you’ve established on campus. It’s likely they’ll also share some tips for deadline success, choosing classes, navigating the college application process and life after high school.

But their return also represents a greater understanding of what they achieved during their years with you. While they may occasionally converse with other teachers during their visits or when they see them at school events, it’s less likely they’re texting those former teachers when a college professor mentions a phrase from the yearbook world or when they find an ad that would make a great theme.

Most yearbookers come to understand the importance of the volume they are creating. Hopefully, they’ve embraced the importance of including everyone on campus as many times as possible, rather than over-covering a select few. They find the balance of covering major events and everyday occurrences to capture the year accurately.

As for the other readers, the reality of a yearbook’s value may not sink in for many years. Sure, distribution day is often a campus event. It’s always fun to see yourself and your friends in the book and, in many schools, the tradition of signing yearbooks is alive and well. But greater appreciation is more likely years — or decades — into the future, when a class reunion looms or curiosity sends someone back to those pages to find a specific answer or connect a name to a face.

But at some point, they’ll embrace those volumes that captured these years and be able to remember the people and events that made this year what it was. Add this to your list of goals: Producing a book that both delights readers when it arrives and provides details necessary for the year to live on indefinitely.

Yearbook is both a privilege and a responsibility. Now. And forever.

Ann Akers, MJE

 Speaking of forever, she started yearbooking when they counted headlines to fit, printed photos to size and paid extra for cross-gutter bleeds!