MaryKay Downes, Adviser, Chantilly High School, Chantilly, Virginia

If the yearbook staff has 13 dedicated students covering a school of almost 600 students in order to capture 10 months of high school life, how is it possible to accurately and thoroughly cover the entire student body?

“It is possible. There are many award winning yearbooks that do so. Arrowhead Christian Academy comes to mind. I would get a list of the Pacemaker and Crown books and pour over them,” Downes said. This is something that I know I need to make more time for in my own yearbook class. It’s easy to get busy in yearbooks, especially close to deadlines, but we have to make sure that our students are able to interact with yearbooks that do design, writing, and photography well. The best way to learn, especially in journalism classes, is to mimic the works that we are in awe of.

Digital Media

Downes said that her yearbook partnered with Lifepages.com and they make a digital book to accompany the print book. They then sold the digital book for $15 to only those who bought a hard copy. The digital book consisted of unused photographs that the yearbook took and short pieces of writing that the staff had written. The writing in the digital version was a way for yearbookers to focus in on subjects like–getting a more thorough look into the students who aren’t as involved in school activities, or to get to know the director of the school’s play, or highlight the winning basketball team.

What a great idea, if you can afford it!

Imitating the work that inspires us and provokes the kind of writing and design we yearn to see, is exactly what advisers should expect to see and hear in our own newsrooms. I also think it is possible include some form of digitization with the yearbook, as Downes suggests.

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