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Navigating Your Pressure Cooker Situation

Updated: Feb 27

A person holds a clock in front of their head showing that yearbook deadlines are approaching fast!

With March approaching, the pressure is building to complete page spreads. But many students need help to finish, the Administration has questions, photographs have to be updated, and the editors and advisor can't be in more than one place at one time. What to do? Plan and Get All Hands on Deck!

The BEST option is to PLAN and get “All Hands on Deck.”

  1. Create deadlines that provide breathing room before the actual drop-dead dates given by the publisher.

  2. Include the student leadership team in your planning! These are the ones you have invested in, and now you need them to step up. Have them work alongside the ones who are struggling. Only step in IF requested.

  3. Meet with staff members who need to make personal contacts to complete their page spreads. Strategize together to complete details, set up times and dates, and follow up by communicating with the parents. Clearly explain to the students and the parents that as long as the work is completed, the student’s grades will reflect their diligent work.

  4. As the adviser, craft time with the administration and plan the dates so they would be ready to follow through with their role in reviewing Senior Quotes and Senior Superlatives before the page spreads could be completed.

  5. Come alongside the registrar staff and the Athletic Director to double-check the names of each student in the class portraits and team sports photographs.

  6. After the student editors and you, as the adviser, review the printed spreads, ask an English teacher to check for spelling and grammar errors you may have missed. 

  7. Make a date to examine the photographs in all the spreads to look for any duplications. If you find any duplicates, have suitable “plan B” photographs to substitute.

  8. Choose a day or two to roam the halls with your staff and access (approved) classrooms to take additional photographs. 

  9. Schedule time with your staff to interview faculty members to fill the modules of the faculty page spreads. NOTE: Always have content to use as filler - you may or may not use it, but have it just in case.

  10. Consult with each section leader to review captions for the spelling of student names and to make sure the photographs match.   

  11. Set the date to meet with the editors, section leaders, and staff to go over who was making which corrections, and their date for completion. Print the pages and review them again to make sure everything is correct.  

  12. Arrange for several workdays and make them fun!  Keep the snacks coming! Together with your student leaders, select several from the yearbook staff to be rewarded for their work “above and beyond the call of duty” and thank them with flowers and notes.

Another way to deal with pressure is to have unexpected celebrations - a Disruption Celebration!

These celebrations are a surprise to your students! You will know when you need to have one as you take a "temp" of your students. Keep an eye on their mental and physical health. There may be some years when you need more than one, maybe multiple from mid-January to the beginning of April. When you see signs of unease emerge, it is time to act. 

At the "disruption Celebration Breather" bring goofy swag to wear, small gifts, and of course snacks, and more snacks. Share the candid photos you and the students have been taking. Over compliment the students who designed the completed layouts. Remind them of why they are doing this - put the cover case in their hands. Make a Shoutout Wall with Post-it notes of encouragement. To wrap things up, practice some guided meditation and breathing exercises to calm and bring down the tension.

A calendar is being ticked off to show that a yearbook deadline has approached.

This may be the first real make-or-break pressure situation your students have ever faced. Mom or Dad are not going to swoop in and say "It's fine. I'll take care of it." Students have to learn to come through.

This could be an anxious time. However, students will learn that anxiety does not have to be detrimental. Tension can be very motivating. You don't have to just get through it, but instead, exceed expectations. Relax in the pressure cooker, it is only temporary.

As you meet the fast and frenzied moments of this month, if you'd like assistance in navigating your pressure cooker situation, contact United Yearbook Printing. We'll be there for you.

United Yearbook offers resources, curriculum, and on-site workshops on this and other topics. To learn more, contact us at or visit our website at

Copyright © 2024. TSE Worldwide Press. All Rights Reserved.

Former yearbook adviser, Lucy McHugh.

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.

Article editor, Donna Ladner.

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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