Level Up your yearbook with Mike and Jim!
Written by Sarah Scott
Entries to the Level Up contest are due this Sunday, Oct. 6. In celebration of the contest, WYPN podcast hosts Mike Taylor, CJE, and Jim Jordan worked together to produce a joint episode!
They interviewed the advisers and yearbook experts below about ways yearbook staffs can level up their books!
Emily Arnold, the adviser at Aledo High School (formerly of Haltom High), wanted to improve writing and elevate their design. Last year, they worked on writing and improved by implementing feature-style writing through storytelling.
“Let’s have full features. Let’s write features about students. Let’s make it about students instead of just the year,” Arnold said.
She’s working with the journalism teacher at the middle school that feeds to Aledo.
They’re working on improvement this year by attending an Elite Weekend, and plan to attend the TAJE Journalism Convention. They’re also working to get the district’s permission to attend the JEA/NSPA Convention in Washington, D.C.
Leland Mallett at Mansfield Legacy High School in Mansfield, Texas works to Level Up his yearbook by recruiting at the middle school level. The yearbook staff visits journalism classes and let younger students know what’s available.
They spend a lot of time working on their sports photography. A large portion of the improvement is teaching the game to photographers, so those photographers understand what makes a great shot for that sport.
Adviser Sheila Moore and two of her staff members from Meridian High School in Macon, Illinois discussed Leveling Up their book. Editor-in-Chief Hallie Gates and layout editor Madison Sapp told the story of how they changed their theme at the Dallas Fort Worth Elite Weekend. Sapp struggled with cutting down theme copy.
“She’s learning that less is more,” Moore said.
Bruce Watterson has been hugely influential in the yearbook world. He played a big part in helping Jordan level up his own book as a new adviser.
Watterson shared that staff commitment plays a big role in an improved yearbook. Staff needs to commit to covering the whole school and everyone at the school.
“They need to be aware that this is an egalitarian product. It should be representative of the whole student body,” Watterson explained.
The interview was recorded at the Dallas-Fort Worth Elite Weekend, where Watterson was instructing. He explained the role Elite weekends can play in leveling up a yearbook.
“The students have had enough time to get home from summer camp, let the thematic ideas resonate, let the juices start flowing, let the inspirational ideas come forward, and begin to be collectors of all those things,” Watterson said. “It’s time for them, at a workshop like the Elite workshop, to start being finite about what kind of ideas will best fit the storytelling motif of the book. And Elite seems to do that.”
The ability to hear another person’s opinion and then decide whether it works best is key to improvement. That’s what the first day of Elite Weekends are all about.
“If people come to a workshop like this and expect the trainers to design a book for them, then they’re at the wrong workshop,” Watterson added.
He’s been impressed with the direction of the yearbook world and has seen many yearbooks that look as good as a professional publication.
You can hear this episode on both Taylor and Jordan’s podcast channel. Find them both at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.