April 22, 2000 / Spring 2000 / Staff Management

Joint Venture

Written by Scott Albright

Staffs can benefit from partnerships with other school groups.

Putting together a yearbook is no easy task, especially in high school. Staffers have to plan the entire book, coming up with a theme and making overall coverage decisions. Then there are the school events – lots of them – each requiring coverage by a writer and photographer. Once the events are covered, the editing-rewriting-editing process begins. Cutlines, headlines, tool lines follow, along with the spread design. All of this, in addition to homework, sports and everything else high school brings.

Tired yet? No time to be. There is more to be done.

To pay the bills, advertising needs to be sold, ads need to be designed and, oh yes, the yearbook needs to be marketed. Okay, maybe someone should call in the National Guard. Looks like reinforcements are going to be needed.

Hold on. Not so fast.

There might be another way to get some help without involving U.S. armed forces. Many yearbook staffs have found a remedy for their too-many-tasks, not-enough-time, what-are-we-going-to-do blues.

The remedy? Partnerships. Reaching out and collaborating with other students and teachers, in the business department, art department or elsewhere. The business and art departments are perfect partners for yearbook staffs, considering yearbook is really a small business involving the production of a publication that is by nature artistic.

Most high school business departments have accounting and marketing classes, so why not create a partnership with those students to sell ads, market and sell the yearbook and collect money? Then have art students design ads, create original artwork and maybe even take some photographs.

It is partnerships like these that have helped many staffs ease their load, while at the same time providing valuable opportunities for other students not involved in yearbook. Case in point: the Aquila staff at Surry Central High School, Dobson, N.C. Adviser Angie Graham said a partnership with students in the school’s Computerized Accounting class has been a great benefit to her yearbook staff.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody involved,” Graham said. “The yearbook kids are on staff to write stories, take pictures, learn journalism skills. If we can take advantage of the skills of students in other departments and hit on everyone’s strengths, it frees us up to concentrate on the editorial aspects of the book.”

Graham said the accounting students handle all the advertising in the Aquila, including sales, design, billing and collection. In all, this results in about 50 fewer pages for her yearbook staff to worry about producing.

“This really is an outstanding co-op, not just for the yearbook staff, but also the business students,” she said. “The hands-on business experience is great for them.”

The Aquila staff has been partnering with business students for well over 10 years, Graham said, including the last eight years she has been the adviser. She said a new partnership with the school’s Photography Club was started this year and has been successful so far.

Another yearbook partnership involving the business department has enjoyed success at Sharpsville High School, Sharpsville, Pa. There, two separate staffs – a production staff and a business staff – work together to produce the Devil’s Log yearbook.

Adviser Nadia Prisuta said the business staff has its own adviser and operates independent of the yearbook staff. She said the business students organize and carry out fundraisers and sell and design all the yearbook’s advertising.

“Yearbook here is not a class; it’s all after school, so this allows us to focus exclusively on putting the yearbook together,” Prisuta said. “It’s really nice not to have to worry about the advertising section of the yearbook.”

The Impala yearbook staff at Poudre High School, Ft. Collins, Colo., has developed a partnership with students in the school’s marketing class. The staff offers these students a healthy discount on the yearbook in exchange for selling a prescribed number of ads.

“My yearbook kids still have to sell ads, but this partnership takes a lot of the work load off of them,” Adviser Tara Richards said. “It also gives the marketing students a sense of being a part of the yearbook and its success. I think that aspect of it really keeps the partnership going.”

Although these partnerships work for most yearbook staffs that form them, they are not foolproof. Just ask Lee Pieper, adviser at Benicia High School, Benicia, Calif., who attempted this year to forge a partnership between her yearbook staff and students in her Graphic Arts class.

“I wanted to give my graphics kids something that they could see as ‘real,’ so I thought ‘what better way than to have them be in charge of yearbook ads?”’ Pieper said. “It seemed like a wonderful idea. Forget about it! Although most of the kids showed a moment’s enthusiasm, only one followed through. It was a bust.”

Pieper is not giving up, though. She said she still thinks it can work given the right circumstances.

“The fact is, I’m going to try it again next year,” she said. “I don’t know how I will change my approach, but I do think these kinds of partnerships are a great idea.”

The odds seem to be heavily in favor of yearbook staffs that form partnerships with students and teachers in other departments. These collaborations can help staffs save time, ease stress and lessen the work load. And, in extreme cases, they can prevent the need for a National Guard presence in the yearbook room.

Scott Albright