Yearbook is for Life
Hear it from Ann
While the language varies, it’s no surprise so many people in the yearbook world share common sentiments. There’s a nearly universal dread as deadlines somehow become more difficult at the end. Everyone is busy and tired — maybe overwhelmed.
Complicated by unpredictable weather and sources who don’t share our sense of urgency, there are days when the end cannot come soon enough.
Even once the book is completed, there are few days off to celebrate, recoup and regroup before the staff is ready to go again — working to sell out before books arrive, planning for supplement coverage, scheming a distribution event, taking care of contest/critique and end-of-year details, and thinking ahead to the next volume.
There’s always a sense of anticipation in the air.
Once the books arrive, celebrations take on a new feel and another reality sets in — some staffers will move on as others prepare to take the reins and begin the process anew. But the joy of holding a new yearbook — of the first sniff, the first view, the first read — is a memory etched into the minds of all who made it happen.
It doesn’t end there. In the decades that follow, there will be times when a lesson learned, a memory from a workshop, convention or deadline creeps back in.
It’s been nearly 10 years since I first read one of my favorite descriptions of how yearbook grows on you. It’s what Invictus adviser Cortney Weisman’s first co-editors, Samantha Baer and Jana Hirsch, said in 2006. It became the opening to Weisman’s start-of-year speech at Ward Melville High.
“First, you become a part of yearbook. Then, it becomes a part of you.”
Both Baer, now an attorney, and Hirsch, a research professor, stay in contact with their former adviser. Simply more proof they were correct.
For years, Chantilly adviser Mary Kay Downes has signed off “YB4L.” Guess who taught the editors’ section at Gettysburg Yearbook Experience (GYE) when both Baer and Hirsch attended to prepare to be leaders?
MKD. That’s who inspired them to raise the bar.
Some conventions bring out “once a yearbooker, always a yearbooker” T-shirts and a new flock of creatives clamoring for flair with messages proclaiming their passion. When it’s workshop time, some brag they can wear different yearbook garb each day for weeks. Traditions stick with those who know special yearbook birthday songs and chants they’ll never forget.
Through the years, the phrase “Yearbook is my life” has adorned merch. For the Yearbook Tech workshoppers in San Diego, it was also the official camp cheer. Workshop director Steve Bailey and his assistants began “YEARBOOK is my life” and followed it with “Yearbook IS my life” to emphasize a commitment to the whole project. With each ensuing repetition, the volume increased. Most recently, the chant was the perfect finale to a presentation honoring the life of the late Bailey, long-time rep and former adviser who inspired thousands in his decades with Herff Jones.
Advisers remember these times when former staffers return to campus.
There’s nothing like hearing how yearbook continues to influence students. Whether it’s an annual event, a random trip home or a note, professional and personal achievements are often presented with connections to lessons learned in the yearbook room.
Others might not understand how it could have such an impact on so many lives. But it tends to work its way into conversations for years to come.
More proof, I guess, that yearbook is for life.
ANN AKERS, MJE
Manager, Yearbook Customer Engagement
HEAR HER JOURNEY
It’s her yearbook world. We’re just living in it.
Hear more from Ann Akers on our Mind the Gutter podcast.
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Check out these team-building and ice breaker ideas for your yearbook staff.
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