Take Note



Yearbook HQ is filled with the best student work on the planet. Steve Kent and the creative collective selected these moments from books across our network to celebrate what’s trending.

Want to see your work featured here? DM us @HJYearbook.


Rome, Georgia

Adviser: Adrienne Forgette, MJE
Editors: Katherine Gu and Claire Anderson

“It’s impactful to have someone write it out and sign their name. We are a private school that is also a boarding school and have opinions from all over the country and all over the world. Some were funny, some were more serious and made you think. We wanted to get the student voices because we are telling the story of them. When it’s red and blue, sometimes it is one student. It was great we didn’t just get two polarizing things, we got a wide range of opinions.”


The first year this staff ever entered competitions, it won best book in Georgia, Silver Crown, Pacemaker and third place in JEA/NSPA Best of Show. That was also its first book with Herff Jones. Not to rest on its laurels, the Jabberwokk staff coupled student research with its own intent to make the book more community-focused. As a private school with half of its students from other countries, Darlington is filled with varied voices. Here, letting students’ handwriting supply the verbal and the visual coverage, the editors show a clever way to let those thoughts resonate. The use of these 29 messages is a fresh alternative to the typical talking head modules. //sk


Lynchburg, Virginia

Adviser: Brett Hastie
Editor: Maddie Martin

“It impacted us when a student died in a car accident and she wasn’t covered in any of the books. We made an effort to look at who wasn’t covered because their voices needed to be heard. We want every student’s parent to have peace tragedy happens. A staffer took charge, and found people who had never been covered. She met with them and If it was just ok, we used it as a talking head. That’s how we approached it. Finding the kids who had never been featured in the book at all — never covered on any page — because we didn’t want that feeling to happen again.”


For my money, The Buzzer is one of the best books produced in 2017. Of course, I am admittedly biased. Hand-painted backgrounds, the most sophisticated grid structure and coverage galore make the spreads of this book look like no other. This, of course, only happens when your leadership team — here, a remarkable editorial board of long-time staffers — invests itself into not only creating a superior, accurate and fresh historical reference of the year, but also in speaking with heart and truth. Filled with more fireworks than an Independence Day celebration, this book reflects attention to detail, next-level storytelling and such a high level of magazine-quality execution, it’s a standout. And, a knockout. //sk


Lynchburg, Virginia

Adviser: Sarena Wellman
Editors: Zoie Younce

“I used the photo editing tools in eDesign and basically just did a reverse cut-out. No matter what else we tried, the drummer, Noah, blended in to the background. In color, in black and white, same result. I experimented with the cutout and colorizing it and decided to pull a color from our cover to make it all tie together.”


Not to be outdone by its elder program across the parking lot, The Stinger shows where those high school staffers on the previous page get their starts. The first question people ask when they see this book is always, “THIS is a middle school book?” It’s hard to believe, but this staff was part of the Square One pilot, and it abides by our research-driven model for producing its book. At the beginning of the year, staffers are assigned face-to-face conversations with students who didn’t have enough appearances in the previous book based on the index and the coverage report in eDesign. These get-to-know-you conversations uncover unbelievable story topics. Here, the staff tackled the topic of loss and coping. “When Addie Harf asked me if she could interview Madisen about the loss of her brother, sure I was skeptical,” adviser Sarena Wellman said. “I was worried about it being done well. But, we checked with the parents and they agreed. I wanted to see how the story took shape, and am so proud of it. Addie handled herself with grace and maturity.” In addition to maturity beyond their years, the staffers’ graphic risk-taking is equally inspiring. //sk


Dover, Florida

Adviser: Morgan Miltner
Editor: Selena Ortega

“The initial idea came from us wanting to incorporate something special to convey our theme, ‘Is it clear?’ We thought a clear cover or partial cover was too obvious. Eventually, we thought back to overheads that used to be used in classrooms. Then, we set out to find if it was even possible to get that in a yearbook. We were so excited to open the book when it first arrived. Both the acetate page and the cover were completely custom combinations of different materials that couldn’t be replicated in the proof from the plant. This was the first year where the final look of the cover was a surprise. We worried the lines on the acetate wouldn’t line up correctly with the title page but they lined up perfectly.”


The book that makes you say “wow” as soon as you see it. Its metallic copper cover and recycled endsheet stock are certainly attention-getting. But, it’s the clear acetate fly sheet before the title page that leaves you speechless. The close-up image on the left shows the acetate sheet being lifted. This brilliant staff printed half an illustration on the fly sheet and half on the title page. When you lift the fly sheet, the two guys shown in the illustration take on a different type of interaction. The rest of the book, again from a Square One pilot school, is clean, sophisticated and filled with brief copy points. This staff, based on community research, produces a blended coverage model with almost all copy in an alternative or first-person presentation. Look at the inside back cover of this edition of Folio to see how this staff and cohorts from neighboring Newsome High saved another school’s yearbook as we were going to press. //sk


Centennial, Colorado

Adviser: Greg Anderson
Editors: Sarah Cherin and Allison Swom

“Arapahoe has done elegant and quiet books. We decided we wanted to create one as loud as our students. The color scheme was based on the Arapahoe tribe colors of red, blue, yellow, and black. Those are traditionally used in the culture, and so ingrained in the school. Our editors were both non-traditional journalists and prided themselves on that. Originally, they wanted something loud and sassy. Then we started working with language, started picking up conjunctions and landed on a theme that is not grammatically correct. We wanted casual language reflective of how students talked.”


I love it when the concept is so perfect to a staff and to a school. Arapahoe is one of those programs from which I just can’t wait to see the book every year. This staff took a crowd shot at a football game and made it into something more. The treatments make it seem to fade into the background as the modern type treatment sits atop it. Deleting the “negative” space in the letters gives me something to consider when I read the type. It’s not just type. It’s brilliant, subtle art. You will never convince me crowd shots aren’t powerful. There’s no other way to get as many faces involved. No matter where or when, students in this photo will remember the moment it was taken. And that’s the beauty of yearbook. //sk


St. John, Indiana

Advisers: Sarah Verpooten & Carrie Wadycki
Editor: Nicole Milaszewski

“We didn’t want to do fluffy stories. We wanted the raw emotion and what people are truly about, what people actually want to feel. The ‘pressure’ section is a big deal, these everyday struggles we don’t often think of sharing, You are not alone, and being able to emphasize that was important. We didn’t want to be the ones dictating the story. That’s their own story. We didn’t want forced leads and transitions. If you start asking the right questions, it will flow in a cohesive story. That’s what Humans of New York does. We wanted to get that vibe of someone being able to pour their heart out in a small amount of space and somehow it’s powerful.”


With solid leadership, these staffers decided to tell it like it really is. When your heart is in the right place, and you have the ability to have such a singular, cut-through message, you don’t need anything else. When “story” becomes “the story,” let it. The design here is stunning. To newcomers to our world, “design” may mean decoration in the forms of swirling type, dramatic photo treatments, colors, textures and the like. In this Hoosier state contribution, we see design in its purest form: Relaying content. Leading the eye. Getting out of the way of the story. The generous and deliberate space use pulls me by the collar into the reporting. That’s great design. The students featured, as well as their classmates, benefitted from well-trained staff members who know how to tell the story of the year, as well as the story of the times. //sk


Hendersonville, North Carolina

Adviser: Brenda Gorsuch
Editors: Dallis Guilliams, Daniel Ippolito, Elizabeth O’Donnell, Skylar Smith and Samantha Wilkie

“I feel like the first month of the year, our ladder is not concrete. When we get these stories or ideas, then it becomes concrete. We tried to cover everything. It’s definitely challenging to get the information. You have to dig. We created these ideas and thought they would be great, but it took a lot of brainstorming on what to actually put on those pages. We are really dependent on the student body. When we were working on the social media page, we would just go around and ask people questions. When we found those interesting stories, like the craze of finstas, it clicked. Sometimes the idea is not going to come from just looking at stuff. You have to ask questions.”


This is legendary adviser Brenda Gorsuch’s last book, and what a way to mark her legacy. Long known as one of the exemplary examples of copywriting in yearbook, Westwind staffers took reporting to new levels with so many individual accounts to supplement alternative copy forms and extended captions (which I contend stand as mini-stories in the hands of these staffers). Note, the appropriately tiny four talking head shots in the corners formatted as part of the folio packaging. Coverage abounds, as always. Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, students at this school – and generations before them – have never known anything other than this level of excellence. Thank you, West Henderson — and Brenda — for giving us textbook examples of all things yearbook. //sk


Brighton, Colorado

Adviser: Justin Daigle
Editors: Isaac Burgarin and William Satler

“For a chronological book, it’s so difficult because my staff had to be on its best for every event. If something happened and we missed it, there wasn’t anything we could do. For a staff wanting to get into chronological, it has to be related to its theme. The staff has to be on every single week. There might be a plan to cover an event, but you have to get deeper than the traditional coverage. To be successful, you have to dig deeper and stay on track. I think its so cool when you can put together a chronological spread with whatever you have. It’s a challenge, but that is the cool part of it.”


What’s a never-fail structure for a yearbook? Brace yourselves: Chronological. In my research across our international network through the years, staff members and advisers swear by this take-it-as-it-happens approach. But student research initially did not support it. Students were unaccustomed to change, thinking yearbooks should be the same from year to year. Now, however, that feedback is changing. Students at schools where staffs have made radically different books each year are coming around. It’s a culture shift: We have to show our communities yearbooks should change with the times. Take this beautiful book from Brighton. As Will perfectly points out, the structure of your ladder should come after you’ve settled on the central concept of your book. That concept should drive every decision, especially where and in what order you include coverage. From a visual perspective, look at the high-level way the words have been broken into separate paragraphs. This “block style” copy formatting injects white space into the in-depth personal reporting, and attracts readers’ eyes.//sk