Yearbook coverage is about students, school

Written by Dave Collins

Don’t get me wrong, I love most parents. And I really like the ones who have agreed to let me work with their teens to create the yearbook.

But as you may know, the occasional encounter with a parent who has an offbeat request can overshadow all of the other parents who order yearbooks on time, understand why the book costs more than it did when they were in school, and especially those who understand that the yearbook is a book produced by students for all students in the school, not just a few.

I have had to explain that to parents and students a time or two in my years of advising yearbook at James Wood High School in Winchester, Va. For example, just while I am enjoying a planning period to solve compatibility problems with cameras and software, a parent stops by unannounced to discuss their latest initiative. It seems little Jenny has just received her fifth Ice Princess crown from the local Kiwi Growers Association because her daddy is the president. Pictures were taken at the occasion with a phone camera and have to be in the yearbook. And by the way, why didn’t we send a yearbook photographer to this event?

It helps to have a ready explanation, which I have prepared after being faced with this type of situation. First, I explain the goals of yearbook, the primary one being that it is a history of the school for one year. It’s about what the kids in their school experience.

My staff and I also have all of the school events collected in a database. If the event presented to one of my staff members or me is not listed in that database, it will not be covered in the yearbook.

Sometimes a very motivated parent decides it is best to take it up the chain of command. That is when you need a good relationship with the administration at your school. Luckily, I do.

These situations can be very difficult, but I just remember that it always comes down to the kids. It’s their book and their experience.

Each spring the yearbook staff and I sit together and try to figure out what the next school year will be all about. What is going to happen before it happens? How will the year unfold? It is truly amazing what a young, fresh mind that has just experienced building something of lasting value will devise.

This is why advisers look forward to the madness, the parents and the strange requests. The privilege to be with those young minds as they create is worth it. Next year is always better than last year.

Dave Collins