May 24, 2010 / News

Dealing with student deaths in the yearbook can be a delicate subject

Written by Evan Blackwell, CJE

The Kansas City Star did a probing and insightful article in their Sunday edition yesterday about the varied way yearbook staffs deal with the touchy subject of student deaths.

What exactly is the best policy for handling the yearbook coverage of students who die during the year?

As the article points out, there are many different ways the situation can be handled. Some staffs approach every student death with a “journalistic bent” and write an obituary for all students who die. Other staffs leave the decision up to family wishes. Many staffs allow for ad space to be used as tribute pages to the students.

How has your school’s yearbook dealt with student deaths?

  • Dealing with student deaths in the yearbook can be a delicate subject http://goo.gl/fb/zy0ar

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • Lori Leonard

    Last year a freshman died in early April. We were just about to send off our final proofs. It was the first time in my 12 years of teaching and 7 years of advising that I had to deal with a death in my school. It was extremely rough emotionally for the freshman class but hardly anyone had any pictures of him so doing anything elaborate was going to be impossible. We ended up placing a quarter page in the ad section with a black background which included the words rest in peace, a photo of him, and his birth and death dates. Very simple but his family and friends appreciated it. His class is planning on buying ad space in their senior year to acknowledge his passing.

Evan Blackwell, CJE

Evan Blackwell, CJE, is a Web Content Specialist for walsworthyearbooks.com and yearbookhelp.com, as well as a regular contributor to Idea File magazine. He's been a writer and editor for Walsworth Yearbooks for the past 13 years, and is the author of the Yearbook Suite's "The Art of the Interview" unit. Prior to joining Walsworth, Blackwell spent five years as an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.