It’s that time of year for those of us producing fall books to start wrapping up the ones for this year and begin planning for the next ones. It’s a joyous, never-ending cycle of creativity, and I love that about advising yearbook.
In preparation for this shift from theme to theme, my returning students begin working on theme packets at the beginning of May. They take a week or so to peruse online sites showcasing thematic books, flipping through volumes of Ideas That Fly and pondering the message they want to share with their classmates the following year. They run me out of sticky notes during this week, so as an administrative warning, stock up!
Next, they select a single theme that they would like to work with and begin playing around with designs and ideas they have collected. By the end of the second and third weeks, they have ideas for covers, dividers, student life pages, sports pages, reference pages and even the index. I encourage them to think about all the levels of their themes including font selection, graphic elements, color options, internal spacing, photography focus and caption placement.
The final week of May is then reserved for presenting these to their classmates. They talk through their theme ideas including anything relevant outside of the obvious visual aspects including organizational ideas and journalistic focus or patterns. We generally narrow down the themes to our favorite two and work through both again before making a final selection. The selected theme is then the focus of their final exam. My students take their theme choice and make adjustments based on previous discussions. Sometimes they integrate elements from other theme packets that they really liked, so this takes collaboration and some time.
As a cumulative exercise, students are then responsible for presenting our final theme idea (via Google Slides) to our Herff Jones representative. She asks questions, clarifies concepts, gives the students immediate feedback on their theme plan and really helps them see where they may have some gaps and adjustments to make before fall.
I love wrapping up our year in this way, and seeing them build a working relationship with our representative is an exciting perk, too.
Edwardsburg (MI) HS
Lisa Sherman, a 15-year veteran yearbook adviser, enjoys spending time with her three middle school sons, catching the newest movies on the big screen, and reading national best sellers while her toes are in the sand. If she can squeeze in a workout, that's good, too.