The fifth period class from Hell–also known as Yearbook. It’s a seemingly easy, breezy course, but with the title of Yerd (yearbook-nerd, for all of you unfamiliar with the term) comes all the responsibilities and pressure of a part-time job and none of the paychecks. Sounds fun, right?
Well, you can decide for yourself.
Every summer, Herff-Jones hosts Yearbooks at the Beach, where our staff and many others gather at Calstate Long Beach to finalize plans for the upcoming book’s theme, and learn how to make the best product possible. Of course, being a first year Writer-Designer, my time there was mostly devoted to getting the basics down (easy) and fooling around for the rest of the time. While the editors worked their butts off to complete theme packets, most of my days were spent messing around on Omegle and flying around the campus of CSULB, bonding with the rest of the staff.
“It’s for Yearbook!”
Being a writer means getting interviews, going to events, and writing about them. Our staff members get super rad press passes that allow us to get in and out of school events for free, and give us an excuse to roam around the school during fifth period. Yearbook’s also a handy-dandy excuse for when you want to get out of your fourth period a little early, or strut in fashionably late to sixth. Of course, these things are not meant to be abused, but we all have those days.
Expanding Your Social Spectrum
You know what they say about people bonding through stress? No? Me neither. But let me tell you something– each and every member of our staff is as different as can be, but after hours and hours of worrying and complaining and crying and yelling, we’ve come to like each other quite a bit. After all, we’re all part of one staff, working on one book, and it’s crucial that we communicate and work together to create the final product.
Dealing With People
I’m not an extrovert. My energy doesn’t come from surrounding myself with people, nor do I enjoy doing so. But when deadlines are near and there are stories to be written, it’s crucial that I get out there and up in people’s faces to dig out that story, no matter what. The purpose of a yearbook is to capture each student in the school, giving them a place in the happenings chronicled in each spread. That makes for a lot of Facebook stalking and awkward “Hi-you-don’t-know-me-but-I’m-going-to-ask-you-a-bunch-of-questions.” Having signed up to be a writer, I would much rather be alone at home all day typing away, but conversation and interrogation are the backbones of journalism, and all I can do is suck it up and do my job.
“Why are there so many typos?” “This is such a bad picture of me! I hate this book!” “This is so unoriginal.” Contrary to popular belief, the entire yearbook isn’t created and assembled over the course of the entire year. Writers are given approximately three weeks to finish one to two spreads (two open pages), with mini deadlines for content and design throughout the weeks. The spreads are collected, edited, and put together by the editors, who send them off for publication by March.
Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have five other classes to worry about, as well as trying to balance other extracurriculars and jobs. One of my staff’s editors, Kristen Hwang put it this way: “It’s true that the yearbook isn’t perfect. Sometimes the names are misspelled, the grades are imputed wrong, and there are typos and such. I hope people understand that the kids who make the yearbook make everything from scratch. There aren’t any templates or anything–we get nothing. The staff works really hard to create an amazing book, staying up until 3 AM to work on the book and meet deadlines, while balancing schoolwork and grades and such. It’s pretty disheartening to see people bash on our hard work, but you can’t please everybody!”
I don’t know about your school, but our first semester final assignment was to bring breakfast items for a potluck. Of course, we did end up with four boxes of donuts for some inexplicable reason, but hey–donuts!
Designed by yours truly, they were based on a Pantone book that we won two summers ago. Photogs have the lightest color block, with the shades getting darker as you go up the yearbook hierarchy.
A Lil’ Resume Uplifting
Since writers also double as designers for our yearbook, it’s essential that we learn InDesign. In this generation, being computer-savvy is practically a must, and experience in graphic design is great for adding a little extra “wow” to future job applications.
Seeing Your Precious Baby in All the Finalized Glory
We haven’t completed our book yet, but just seeing that spread you worked so hard on, printed on stock for an almost-final-copy feels really great. There’s something about wrestling with a particular page that gives you a special attachment to it. Of course, this only increases the pain you feel when people bag on it, but still (I will defend my Foreign Clubs spread to the death).
As much as I complain about Yearbook and all the trouble it brings me, I can’t help but to fall in love with it for the very reasons that I hate it so much. Call me a masochist, but I think it’s the power that I enjoy the most.