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Getting Faces Into The Yearbook

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

A bucket list page spread is featured showing rows and rows of students with the biggest item on their bucket list. Each individual quote starts with the words, "before I kick the bucket.." and then what they want to do most. Each image is also themed to their bucket list goal.
A page spread showcasing students greatest bucket list item
I knew the importance of providing clearly designed, relevant information for my students on the walls, windows and doors of my classroom.

Recently, I was tasked with designing classroom posters for United Yearbook Printing. My literal joy at the chance to design a set of classroom posters to aid advisers with common challenges in the work of the yearbook was palpable. When I was in the classroom, I often designed my own teaching posters, school budgets were always an issue, and would frequently use the posters as a reference for myself or for my students to review when appropriate. I had some professional posters like the wheel throwing techniques at the wheel stations, drawing media usage in the storage area for drawing media, and summaries of layout design above the computers in the Design Studio. But whether the posters were ones I created or purchased, I knew the importance of providing clearly designed, relevant information for my students on the walls, windows and doors of my classroom.

Posters are more than just casual visual aids. They provide points of reference, and more importantly, teach!

Posters are more than just casual visual aids. They provide points of reference, and more importantly, teach! They invite us to participate and be involved. The Yearbook class is a microcosm of the real-life version of the student community. Therefore, a poster designed to remind us all how important it is to belong in a community, which also includes an invitation to participate in the yearbook, is crucial to create for your school. This purpose to use posters as a vehicle of communication became very poignant after meeting our newest team member, Joon Kim, a former yearbook adviser at Garden Grove High School.

At about the same time I was contemplating the design of classroom posters, United Yearbook Printing had just completed "Curriculum & Resources No. 6, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging" in their Curricular Instructional Guide Series, and their 2022 Summer Workshop, "Making a House a Home: Tools For Success! of which Joon Kim had participated as a workshop instructor.

The insights he shared in the workshop, and the passion he felt about including as “many faces in the yearbook as possible” resonated and matched the research I discovered. In one article, We’re So Diverse: How Students Use Their High School Yearbooks to Bridge the Gaps, the author describes how rural high schools leveraged outside of school interests and work to gain a more intentional representation of all students.1 Instinctively, Kim and his staff found the same philosophy galvanized them to be more widely inclusive in the construction of their yearbook throughout his tenure as an adviser.

1 Hoffman, L. M. (2004). We’re So Diverse: How Students Use Their High School Yearbooks to Bridge the Gaps. American Secondary Education, 33(1), 4–25.

A compliments page spread is featured here. Images of students along with a quote beneath them describing the best compliment they have ever received fills both the left and right side of the page.
This page spread features different compliments students have received and loved most

This page spread features students' obsessions. Images of students are themed to their obsessions with a small quote beneath that says, "I'm obsessed with..." and features their obsession.
Students share their biggest obsessions in this page spread

This became a practical application when some layouts evolved out of portraying the histories of families connected with the school. Generations of the same family shared the common as graduates of the school. That turned into a tradition for layouts in the yearbook throughout Joon Kim’s tenure. It quite possibly helped drive sales and marketing of the yearbooks!

This page spread is titled, "Argo Generations." It showcases images of different students whose family members also attended the same school.
Generations of Argo's are showcased in this creative page spread

Other layouts, such as advertisements, were once bland, nondescript places to slap on business logs until they became interesting when students’ faces were added to the selection.

This page spread gets students involved in the ads within the yearbook. On the left is an ad for Los Sanchez Sonora Style Mexican Food, where students are seen eating at the restaurant. On the right is an ad for Nissan where students are seen visiting the local Nissan and pretending to purchase a car.
The yearbook staff incorporates ads creatively

You can see that the layout strategies are simple. A visually strong, clever and relevant headline is featured. Then it is a straightforward block hierarchy that is virtually the same from page spread to page spread with just enough variation in topic, faces, and copy to keep the reader engaged. Now, don’t get me wrong, names have to be tracked (use indexes!) so that those few kids that do everything aren’t on every page. Intention in gaining a fuller representation of the student body requires a method or system to track this. But the layout design doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Save those dynamic pieces for the section introductions.

They opened a whole new level of community appreciation and support.

What I found delightful in listening to Kim’s story of the evolution of the yearbook was what happened as a result of the purposeful intent to include everyone in the yearbook. As his staff took this task to track and find those who are overlooked and not usually in the yearbook, they opened a whole new level of community appreciation and support. One such example was including the school’s kitchen staff in the yearbook. The question Kim’s staff answered was, “who was getting left out of the book?” Over time the simple photo shoot extended to include a breakfast to honor them–completely organized and executed by the yearbook staff. A beautiful tradition was born.

Another tradition created by yearbook staff was the Honored Argo event. Teachers were invited to choose students, who reminded them why they became teachers, to be honored at this breakfast. Again, the yearbook staff facilitated the entire event including complete documentation for the yearbook.

Look at all those faces! Look at all that copy! These students aren’t necessarily being honored for academics. The introduction to these 6 pages reads:

“In a classroom, it is often those who cause the most problem(s) (sic) who garner

the most attention from teachers. Meanwhile, those who work hard day after day,

those who strive for success, and those who are positive and genuinely care may go

unnoticed. However, on a Wednesday morning, teachers honor one student who

reminds them why they became an educator in the first place. Some have

overcome incredible odds and persevered in the midst of adversity. Some light up

the classroom and brighten everyone’s day with their enthusiasm and attitude.”

Families love to see their children uplifted! They will want to have a copy of the book that records this! What came up for me with Joon Kim’s summer workshop presentation, the curriculum work for United Yearbook and the invitation to create the poster series was this, a poster reminding us all how important belonging is and an invitation to participate in the yearbook was essential.

This poster reads, "We all belong in the yearbook! Looking for volunteers. Be part of our story." The bottom of the poster features different hands raised in the air with hearts at the center of each palm and students images within the hearts.

It is our hope at United Yearbook Printing that our poster, “Belonging” will be your choice to download, print, and hang outside your yearbook classroom door. Make sure you spread the information further by hanging this poster in multiple, prominent places on your campus so students see that they, too, are a part of the story of your school community. Look for our “Belonging” poster and other selections coming soon!

Contributor: Lucy McHugh comes to United Yearbook Printing from a 39-year career in public and private school education. She was a former visual art teacher and yearbook adviser. She received a Bachelors of Science in Art from Columbia College in Columbia, SC, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000, and in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy enjoys her family, making art and gardening.

Editor: Donna Ladner obtained a B.A. in Education and a minor in English from California Baptist University, and a M.S. in ESL from USC, Los Angeles. After she married Daniel, their family moved to Indonesia with a non-profit organization and lived cross-culturally for 15 years before returning to the U.S in 2012. Donna has been working as an editor and proofreader for TSE Worldwide Press and its subsidiary, United Yearbook since 2015.

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