October 18, 2012 / Fall 2012 / Middle School Moment

Ask, plan, create a great yearbook

Written by Carrie Housekneckt and Marie Richards

Assuming the position of middle school yearbook adviser, which is usually part of a full teaching schedule, can be an overwhelming task.

While middle school yearbooks may not be of the same magnitude as those created at the high school level, they provide unique challenges and require significant planning as well as creativity.

When we were assigned the position two years ago, we lacked any meaningful knowledge of yearbook production and found ourselves waiting and wondering how to begin. We knew the students needed to take pictures and a ladder was involved in creating the book’s layout, but we had no idea how to get on the online program, never mind use it!

Learning from the mistakes and decisions we made the previous year enabled us to oversee the best yearbook yet at Manteo Middle School in 2012 (in our humble opinion). Although the school year has started, you can avoid the problems we encountered and produce an incredible yearbook.

There is no such thing as a dumb question. Yearbook sales representatives are there to help you. When we were struggling during the first few months of school, our rep got us on track. She taught us everything we needed to know about the online program, gave us suggestions to improve layouts, and kept us informed of the financial aspects of creating a yearbook. Any time we had a question or concern, it would be addressed immediately.

Planning, planning, planning. Teachers understand the importance of planning, and it is even more vital for yearbook advisers. Prepare everything you can before school starts or as soon as possible, including a structure to run the class period and individual student folders for their work.

We created press passes in the form of I.D. tags for the students to wear so they are identifiable as staff members when they are taking pictures.

Determine the budget needed for producing the yearbook. This includes income, such as what to charge for the yearbook and whether to do incremental price increases, as well as an estimate of the likely charges such as taxes, shipping and additional fees.

Having your yearbook ladder established and layouts categorized according to academic quarter or season (called chronological order) will allow you make assignments much quicker.

Successful salespeople. There is a common belief that middle school students cannot sell advertisements. Our students started selling over the summer last year, with many able to sell their target of five ads before school started in the fall. Students sold over the phone and in person, which was the most effective because they showed ads from previous yearbooks to business owners. They raised thousands of dollars in ads that allowed us to keep the price of the yearbook affordable, while creating an all-color book with an enhanced, uniquely designed cover. Selling ads is a lot of work, but can it be done by middle schoolers? Absolutely. Seeing the additions to this year’s book made all of our efforts well worth it.

  • kaijah givens

    hi, me and my yearbook staff are creating a yearbook for cms -cobalt middle school – in victorville California-hy dessert- what should we do

  • Melanie Wager

    I am the yearbook adviser for my K-8 school in Charlotte, NC (along with my normal duties as media specialist). I am trying to find an official curriculum for a middle school yearbook class that will fulfill state requirements. I would appreciate any comments or feedback from fellow advisers!

Carrie Housekneckt and Marie Richards