Yearbooks can tie generations together
Written by Amanda Sims
Sitting on a coffee table about 10 feet behind me is one of my favorite publications of all-time. It’s the 15th volume of Webb High School’s yearbook, Princeps, circa 1973, my dad’s senior annual that I’ve all but claimed as my own.
I know how it smells and the feel of the monogrammed crest on the cover; I can quickly locate every picture in it of my teenage parents, though I often find myself questioning the sanity of a staff that would choose to include over a dozen pictures of my dad, Ed Sims.
Each time that I open it up, I find myself pulling up a chair and forgetting to watch the clock, and as a result, I’m proud to confess that I may be one of the only people to read every single story on every single page, even the colophon. In fact, I came embarrassingly close to shedding a tear once when I read then Editor-in chief Diana Dieringer’s account of her staffs tumultuous march toward yearbook completion.
While I can relate to countless traditions that have carried over from 1973 to today, immortalized by pictures and words in that very book, the actual task of producing it hits even closer to home. I was Co-editor-in-chief of Princeps during my senior year in 2005, and Webb’s 50th, and I learned a lot about scrutiny, patience, faith, and more than I ever thought I wanted to know about Webb.
I used to think that the reason I cried the weekend before our first deadline was because I was stressed out, because I didn’t care what was on a page as long as I could mark it as complete. But with our next deadline quickly approaching, I realized that I probably cared too much.
They set some pretty tough standards in ’73. Where else exists a picture of 15-year old Bill Haslam grinning and gaping off the page, beside a caption that reads, “Get a look at those cheerleaders . .. !”? The captions are witty, photographs are original, and most importantly, the writing is honest (most notably on the Swimming spread, with a title that reads, “The Spartan Swim Team Bellyflops in City Meet”).
I cannot help but smile at caption after clever caption and point out to anyone who will listen the pleasing aesthetics of the simple layouts. Unfortunately, I sometimes struggled to adequately channel that excitement to my own staff when I was an editor, as they preferred to be left alone to create their own remarks of brilliance.
Although I may be somewhat unique and biased in that I can genuinely get excited by reading stories about high school athletics, I cannot stress enough how very important these two yearbooks, 1973 and 2005, are to me. No other publication paints as clear a picture of what my parents were surrounded by when they were my age; I can only hope that the 2005 Princeps will be able to do that for my kids.
To attempt the impossible by drawing comparisons and listing contrasts of then and now would never do justice to showing how far Webb has come. I roamed the same halls that my mom rushed through and sat in the same classrooms my dad probably fell asleep in.
So now, it’s only fair that I’m forced to swallow my pride and run the risk of sounding cliché by admitting just how much Webb runs in my blood, how much the school has shaped who I’ll be, and how much I love my parents for letting me follow in their footsteps.
And so, as I, in typical editorial fashion, notice the comma splice on the last line of Diana Dieringer’s closing remarks (page 120 if you don’t believe me) and feel an overwhelming urge to circle it in red ink, I simply close the yearbook from 1973 and put it back on the table. I would never change a single thing about Webb then, as the school clearly exhibits a knack for growing and expanding on its own. Thank you for establishing a place that, besides the house I share with my mom and dad, my family will always call home.