“Do you think anyone will get bored with the repeating pictures?” Liz asked me as she was finishing the last division page. “Maybe we should have used different ones.”
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.
A private space, comfortable couches, lots of food, idea lists, and open minds are required. It is not a time for the timid. By the end of the session, the individuals involved will have become a team. Love it or hate it, all will have committed to the common purpose of creating a book centered around the chosen theme.
Thirty-six years ago, after graduating from Western Illinois University in the spring of 1963, I began my teaching career at Yorkville High School, Yorkville, Ill., as a business education teacher and adviser to the student council. I was not the yearbook adviser that first year and had no real intention of ever becoming one. That would soon change.
Embark. Embark. Now there is a theme word for you. Every yearbook in eras past has featured threshold-crossing, challenge-facing, embarking students in some form or another.
It had been hours since the group came together. Wadded pieces of paper cluttered the room, along with empty pizza boxes and tossed candy wrappers. Bodies draped over chairs and tables. Blank expressions intermingled with looks of agony. It had been a long day filled with trite phrases and the troops were beginning to lose hope. Regardless of how hard they tried, an idea just would not come. A suitable concept for their yearbook eluded them.
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
Robert Capa’s advice to photographers is just as true for those who create pictures with words instead of cameras. Rich Martin, managing editor of The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, Va., maintains if a story is not good enough, the writer is probably not close enough either. A photographer knows he has to move in close or use special lenses to get a photo that is good enough. But, how does a writer get ready for a close-up?
Armed with a list of unique happenings at their school next year and fortified with lots of Chinese food, the Indian’s editorial staff, along with a few writers and photographers, gathered in a dorm room at a summer yearbook workshop to brainstorm a theme.
Choosing a yearbook staff can be the most important decision an adviser makes all year. Many yearbook advisers have faced the hazards of announcing over the public address system that anyone who wants to join the yearbook should meet after school. This approach often meets with various unwelcome responses, and perhaps no response at all. Often the result of such a tactic is the appearance of a clique, which has arrived to “do” the yearbook. It is at this point that the adviser is at the mercy of the students.
We have all been there. We anxiously open an envelope with our yearbook critique returned from a judging association to which we paid a large sum of money and we are horrified by the stupidity of the judge. “She (he) just didn’t get it all!” we muse to ourselves, while trying to figure out a way to break the news without demoralizing the staff.