April 15, 1999 / Spring 1999 / Theme

Behind The Themes

Written by Jim Jordan

The Wings yearbook staff at Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, Calif., does not like to select a theme that capsulizes the school year because they believe that kind of a theme can only be done so many times before it becomes difficult to develop it meaningfully. Instead, they work to pick a theme that could reflect the school year, but one where its focus will allow the staff to give the book a personality.

1998 Wings
Arrowhead Christian Academy, Redlands, Calif.


Working from that perspective, Editor-in-Chief Lucy Morehouse decided she wanted to do something unusual with the theme for the 1998 yearbook. Because the students are all so different, she wanted not only to show their individuality, but also to capture the things they have in common. That thought began to crystallize during a trip to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore to look for idea generators.

While thumbing through magazines, she noticed a design technique that featured type, photos and other graphics overlapping each other and/or pushed to the edge of a border, a page or another graphic element. It got her thinking how the students all live within their own boundaries, making their own lives, searching for their own identities. But it was where those boundaries touched, overlapped, or intersected with others that common experiences were shared, which helped to define life at Arrowhead Christian Academy. As the opening copy stated, “We each lived on our own edge of reality, but for this moment in time, we all had something in common.”

Explaining her concept to the rest of the staff at a summer workshop proved to be difficult, but after exploring other choices and on the strength of the design examples, the staff began to see the possibilities of “Edges” as their theme. As they started developing the theme further, they all realized how important it had been for them to try other themes because when “Edges” was selected, the staff had ownership of it. It was not just the editor’s theme.

As the theme development took shape, unique section development grew out of different interpretations of the word “edge.” An edge is the sharp point of a knife, for instance, but if you turn it on its side, it has a flat surface. And a surface is an area where things happen. Hence, their sports and events focus was called “Surface.”

An edge is also an attitude… so that became the name and focus of the section for people and academics and the magazine. And edges also are the borders or the boundaries of things; therefore, the staff used odd edges and irregular boundaries around the photos in some of the sections. Or the lines along the edges of some of the photos. And the text running crooked (on its edge) in places.

There are so many little touches throughout this book that the reader might not even notice, but that made the development of this world-class theme even more fun for the staff.

One Response to “Behind The Themes”

September 25, 2009 at 12:03 pm, craig gotcher said:

hey im looking for good yearbook persanalities (srry for the spelling) but im at school and my resourses r limeted plzz help

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Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the host of the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast. He is former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.