December 14, 2001 / Staff Management / Winter 2001

Holiday Luncheon Brings Former Editors Together

Written by Mary Inglis

There is something about working together toward one common goal that creates a special bond.

For my former yearbook editors from Wellington High School in Wellington, Fla., that bond is something we are able to keep going year after year thanks to a special tradition.

In 1996, I hosted what was to become the first of many annual editors’ holiday luncheons. The purpose of the luncheon was mostly to catch up with each other over the holidays when most people would be in town.

About five editors attended that first lunch. It was so much fun, we did it again the following year. After that, former editors began calling to find out when the date was.

Our regular date is now the Saturday after we get out of school for winter break.

The tradition keeps growing and little things are added every year. This past year, for the first time, Lauren Gabler, the 1998 co-editor of Wellington’s Precedent yearbook, took the initiative and sent out formal invitations.

For variety, we go to a different restaurant each year, convenience and everyone’s schedule usually dictating the place. Each person pays his or her own way. This year, we had 10 former editors (from 1991 through 2000), and we shared some special moments lunching at the brand new Cheesecake Factory in downtown West Palm Beach.

One of the neatest memories from this year’s lunch was a note from John Zesiger, the first ever Precedent editor (1989-1990). He was unable to attend, but was thrilled to see a formal invitation in his mailbox this year.

I took his note with me and passed it around at lunch. In it, he praised the ambition and courage demonstrated by those students who take on the effort of overseeing the yearbook.

“I was surprised to receive the invitation to the editors’ luncheon in the mail, but more than surprised, I was proud,” Zesiger wrote. “Proud to see that now, 11 years after the first edition, the people in charge are as honored as I was to be editor.

“The word deadline…now paints wonderful memories of fun times with great friends from Wellington High School.”

The greatest benefit in having the luncheon every year is bringing people together who have shared a common past in a fun atmosphere that also provides a sense of “coming home.”

Wellington is a small town. Most of these editors grew up in and around Wellington, and their parents still live here.

It is so much fun to see all these mature young adults come back together on this common ground, talking about the exciting things they are doing with their lives now.

Everyone brings pictures and the younger ones look up to the older ones. It creates a family-like bond and fosters a sense of continuing community.

On the Thursday before the lunch this year, past co-editor Jessica Goldstein (1999) was in town and came by the yearbook room. She did not just visit, she took the time to help the current staff out by putting together the entire freshman section!

Our 2001 co-editor, Emily Abbadessa, was grateful for Jessica’s help.

“It’s nice to have a support group,” she said. “Thank goodness for Jessica. Because of her, we made our deadline!”

If there was ever a doubt in my mind (and there never was) about just how much this tradition has come to mean to my former editors, it would have been dispelled last year.

We were not able to schedule the traditional outing, because I was at home recovering from major surgery.

I was thrilled when four former editors stopped by my house anyway to see how I was doing, catch up and reminisce about the yearbook days. They were right there, not missing a beat.

This tradition is a great idea for any adviser who enjoys remaining a part of their students’ lives. There is something greater to yearbook than just the yearbook room and tracking charts. It is the tradition, the bond and the memories.

Any yearbook adviser interested in starting something similar to the annual editors’ lunch should begin by setting a date and sending out invitations early, giving people plenty of time to plan.

I also try to make each lunch special by incorporating something that will bring back fond or funny memories unique to my yearbook staffs’ experience.

For example, my students are all well aware of my passion for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so this year I put one at the place of each returning student. They remembered and were delighted.

Above all, special events like the editors lunch should be preserved with plenty of photos.

I take lots of pictures, and send one to each person so they can look back at each unique lunch we have shared and treasure it as much as I do!

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Mary Inglis