Touring the Walsworth plant: The eye-opening production of quality yearbooks

Written by Lindsay Condron

(Lindsay Condron is the yearbook adviser at Blanchester High School in Blanchester, Ohio. She attended Walsworth’s Adviser Academy last week, and wrote about her trip on the Plant Tour for the Yearbooks Blog.)

I had been looking forward to the Walsworth Adviser Academy ever since I learned about it in May. As a new adviser, I had my fair share of anxiety about my abilities regarding our yearbook program, and I was eager to be taught by the professionals.

The Academy was, in fact, a huge success. The sessions eased my mind, but the Plant Tour showed me just how extensive the yearbook production process is, and just how dedicated Walsworth is to ensuring quality for their customers.

After time on the bus networking and making friends, our caravan of enthusiastic new advisers arrived at what can only be described as Yearbook Mecca. The tour began in the Pre-Press Facility in Brookfield, Mo. We were shown the collections, as well as the complexities, of cover design. Embossed. Debossed. Laser cut. Silk screen. You name it… they make it happen.

This was one of the most fascinating parts of the tour. Walsworth’s graphic designers are creative and talented professionals who are passionate about creating artwork and covers unique to each school. They are willing to go above-and-beyond the call duty to work with advisors and yearbook staff to really “wow” their school with something wonderful each year.

Shortly after covers, we were taken on an expedition through editing. We met the people who sit at a screen and check each yearbook, page by page, for blatant issues. They check the pages for spelling errors, formatting issues, and even the subtle finger signs that some kids try to sneak in under the radar. I imagine these editors save many yearbook advisers many headaches by preventing parent upheaval and administrative mayhem that could be caused by some form of inappropriate, published material.

Later, after a hearty lunch and a visit from Don Walsworth himself, we traveled to the Printing and Bindery Plant in Marceline, Mo. We were paraded through the world of printing… shown the massive machines that crank out your skillfully designed signatures, ensuring that the colors are not only accurate but beautiful as well. The Bindery was extremely impressive.

After sewing and bonding pages together, these signatures are stored in a specific location until the entire book is ready to be put together. I was almost overwhelmed by the stacks of signatures along the left wall… stored from floor to ceiling in the huge warehouse just waiting to be bound, shipped, and placed in the hands of eager students.

I have merely skimmed the surface of this tour, and I am sure I have not truly done it justice. When it comes to the production of a yearbook, seeing really is believing. Advisers, both experienced and new, should experience the entire process in order to truly appreciate the book that they have helped produce; a yearbook seems even more valuable when you know all the people and the effort that goes into creating it.

Lindsay Condron