Ask Mike: Live from Anaheim
Written by Sarah Scott
Recorded live at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, California on Friday, April 26, 2019, host Mike Taylor, CJE, asked convention attendees “How has journalism helped you in the world?” In this rapid-fire series of micro-interviews, Taylor discussed the yearbook and journalism backgrounds of conference attendees.
Tucker Love, the yearbook adviser at Shawnee Mission South in Overland Park, Kansas, shared his yearbook story. He joined his high school’s yearbook staff as a freshman.
“I fell in love with it. I fell in love, initially, with the process of making something. Making a book was really interesting to me as a 14-year-old kid, and that developed into wanting to lead, and taking pride in that product,” Love shared.
Love’s interest in design led him to art school, where he studied graphic design. He realized he didn’t want to do graphic design in a corporate setting, but wanted to work with students in a high school setting, so Love pursued education. He’s now wrapping up his first year of teaching and advising yearbook.
Love was only able to go to one yearbook convention as a student, but he encourages his students to go to as many as they can.
“I feel like I’ve made connections with people, like advisers [at the Anaheim convention],” Love said. “I’ve made connections from across the country.”
Paige Magera, from Liberty High School in Kansas City, Missouri, is a high school freshman attending her first convention. She’s on the yearbook fast track – slated to be a yearbook editor next school year. At the convention in Anaheim, she expanded her knowledge of design, including why white space is good.
“It kind of gives the reader’s eye a break so they’re not overwhelmed,” Magera explainedsaid. “White space can actually help the readers go through the entire book instead of getting tired after a few pages.”
Albert Silva is currently the photo editor at Montwood High School in El Paso, Texas.
“One thing this convention has done for me is open my eyes to leadership,” Silva said. “It’s really helped me bring my staff closer together.”
A valuable skill to hone, as he’ll be the editor-in-chief next year.
Kathy Beers, the yearbook adviser at Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth, Texas, loves all that her students learn (or have reaffirmed) when they attend conventions.
“It’s reaffirming the good stuff that hopefully I have already taught them. And it’s introducing them to something brand new that they have never heard before. Love it!” she said.
Each of her students attending the conference in Anaheim has an assignment: to present the new information they learned to their yearbook classmates. The goal is to improve a little bit every year by incorporating new knowledge.
Jennifer Bass advises the yearbook at Timberview Middle School, and many of her students go on to work with Beers at Timber Creek High School. Beers credits Bass with training her yearbook staff so the high school yearbook can start the year at a sprint.
“I take 13-year-olds, and I get them for one year. And I cry, and they cry, and we get through it. And we make this beautiful book, and they learn lots of things. And then they go off to high school and do fabulous thing with Kathy Beers and with Greg Janda, who also works with her,” Bass said.
The View was honored with a Pacemaker over the weekend for their 2018 yearbook, “Our House.”
The yearbook staff of Cactus Canyon Junior High in Apache Junction, Arizona came on stage and shared the story of how they completely changed their yearbook cover several months into the school year.
“We worked so hard. And we cried and had so many mental breakdowns. But the product that we produced, we feel that we’ve outdone ourselves. It’s the best yearbook that we have produced,” said Tiffany Hutchison, who works as an assistant editor on the staff’s content team.
Jessica Young, the yearbook adviser at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, California, joined her middle school yearbook staff in seventh grade, “because I didn’t want to take another P.E. class.” She joined the newspaper staff in high school, then majored in journalism at San Diego State.
“So I kind of found what I wanted to do through yearbook. And I was attracted to the idea of telling stories, but the photography part was what really pulled me in,” Young said.
She was hired as a journalism and English teacher and eventually was able drop her English classes and teach journalism, photography, yearbook and graphic design.
“Even though my journey into journalism started as a seventh grader, I feel like now I get to relive that whole experience, and falling in love with it again, every time I get a new group of kids every year,” Young said. “And then we get to go all over the place, to conventions, to workshops, getting to do all different kinds of things. And then I get watch my kids go off and pursue journalism or whatever it is after high school. They’re using those skills all the time.”
John Lynn is the yearbook adviser at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He and Taylor first met when Lynn was living and advising yearbook in Anchorage, Alaska. This is Lynn and his students’ second JEA/NSPA Convention, and he loves seeing and opening their eyes to yearbook peers from all over the world.
“In our school, and at schools I’ve worked at in the past, yearbook is sort of a small community. And you kind of get to feel like no one does it, at least in the schools I’ve worked at. And here they get a chance to meet kids from all over the place,” Lynn said.
Several editors from Bel Air High School in El Paso, Texas, joined Taylor on stage.
“I just feel like yearbook is really underrated,” 2020 Editor-in-chief Marisol Gonzales said. “It’s something that people look at and just think it’s a lot of dedication and a lot of deadlines. But in reality, it teaches you discipline, and it’s a lot of fun.”
She shared that it also looks good on a college application.
Yearbook staffers from Timber Creek High School came up on stage, a few interviews after their adviser. They reflected on their experience at past conventions and camps.
“Elite Weekend was really helpful,” staff member Grace Havenstrite said. “It really showed us what we needed to improve on the pages we already had, and kind of what to do next if we were at a stopping point and didn’t know what to do on the next pages.”
She admitted that it was hard to hear the criticisms, but they helped in the end.
As he was preparing to wrap up, Taylor spotted Allison Long from Notre Dame de Sion in Kansas City, Missouri, and pulled her up on stage. Her yearbook was a finalist for a Pacemaker when she talked to Taylor. They were awarded a Pacemaker the next day. When asked about what journalism has done for her, she scoffed, “Well, I got my degree in it,” then expanded her answer. “It’s the best life skill major you could ever have.”
Another El Paso adviser wrapped up the podcast. Pat Monroe has taught at Burges High School for 28 years. She brought several students to the convention.
“I just hope they get exposed to other books and other ideas, so when they’re doing the yearbook and it’s going to be their baby, that they think outside the box and get some really great ideas,” Monroe said.
You can catch this episode of Ask Mike, titled “Live from Anaheim,” at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify. You can find Taylor on Twitter, @yrbkmiketaylor.