February 1, 2011 / Middle School Moment / Winter 2011

Searching for resourceful yearbook students

Written by Briana Niu

A yearbook’s success depends a great deal on the students selected for the job. The adviser’s job is to help guide students and teach them what is right and wrong, but all students selected should be self-motivated and willing to work. This requires a thorough selection process in which students are evaluated for willingness to work to get results and for the ability to work well with a team. They should also want to do things right and be willing to redo if there is a problem.

My yearbook adviser at Mesa Verde Middle School, Greg Ruth, selects students for each staff who will be able to do everything regarding the yearbook. And he means everything. That is why when he was asked to write a column about staff selection, he chose one of his editors – me – to interview him and write it.

First, Mr. Ruth goes to the core teachers each March and asks for their recommendations. After these teachers have had time to respond with the list of their high achievers, he meets with those students and discusses yearbook expectations. The remaining interested students are then asked to complete tasks that require problem-solving skills, such as a scavenger hunt for unusual items. The purpose is to find out the students’ resourcefulness.

Once he selects students, Mr. Ruth chooses the chief editors. Chief editors and division editors must exhibit pleasant personalities, leadership qualities and maturity. Editors must demonstrate an understanding of the expectations and responsibilities of their job, instilling an atmosphere of trust within the class.

Mesa Verde’s yearbook is set up relatively like a company. The adviser is the CEO, making sure everything runs smoothly. There are two chief editors, and they work with the guidance of the adviser to create the ladder, pick two division editors for each division of the yearbook, and set deadlines. Their choices are discussed with the adviser so he or she can make sure all decisions are acceptable for producing the yearbook on time.

Every staff member works within a group on different sections of the book, no matter what their responsibilities. The chief editors decide who they believe will work best to meet the needs of each yearbook division. The staff members are placed into divisions, and each of the division members helps other members with their work. This requires real teamwork; everyone works on assigned tasks and helps in solving any problems that may arise. Also, best friends are not allowed to be together on the same team.

Mr. Ruth believes deadlines are important and should not be missed in yearbook production. Making the final deadline is crucial, and he works to ensure that his staff can do so. By setting many small deadlines before each deadline established with the publisher, Mr. Ruth makes sure his staff has the lead time necessary to complete their pages. These deadlines are usually a week or so earlier than required; therefore, if staff members are behind schedule, assignments can be completed by the actual deadline. By the time the final deadline arrives, the yearbook is done and ready for submission.

Having quality students who work as a team and are motivated may make a very good yearbook, but to be a truly good adviser, one must have passion, making the class meaningful and worthwhile.

Briana Niu