Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Makes A 'Complete' Yearbook?

It’s that time of year when the IHSPA tide is going out and coming in at the same time. The mail service delivers yearbook critiques from the judges, and I send newspapers to be judged.

As I tabulate the results I like to see that Indiana publications score well with national judges; and I scan critique comments to get an idea of trends and priorities.

It’s a good time of year to emphasize a judge’s note on a critique I received this week. He reminded the staff that a yearbook has three vital functions. It should be a memory book, a history book, and a record book. A yearbook that isn’t all of these things may not receive the highest rating, but even more important—it may not meet the “test of time” and thus fail to provide its audience and the school with a valuable resource.

At many schools the yearbook may be the only place to locate information about athletic team records, school traditions, and curricular and facility changes.

I attended a meeting where people thought their local high school’s first football team was in the 1940s until I showed them a 1908 yearbook with a football team picture.

Looking through old yearbooks also provides historical links to the present…and new story ideas. For example, many schools are challenged to sell ads during a recession, and some are struggling to keep programs as the corporation tries to find ways to cut costs. Students from older schools may look through the yearbook archives and find that yearbooks weren’t published some years during the 1930s and 40s due to the economic challenges of the depression and World War II.

Despite the positive feedback from judges about last year’s publications, it’s also that time of year when advisers tell me their staffs have the “doldrums.” The fun of creating the theme and covering the first events of the school year evolves into a task that seems too big to finish in the days that remain. That’s because it’s a big job. It’s not easy to provide the primary memory, history, and record of the school year, but it’s still important and appreciated, and Indiana staffs have a tradition of dong it well.

Let us know how IHSPA can help as you continue the second half of this effort.

Note: Click Here to see the latest yearbook and newspaper Hoosier Stars. Scroll down on the IHSPA Home page to see these winning publications.

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