When I was in the classroom, I often designed my teaching posters, mainly because budgets were always an issue. I frequently used posters as a reference for myself, or for my students to review. 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. These posters provided uniquely designed and relevant information for my students and were strategically placed around the classroom.
The yearbook class is a microcosm of the real student community. Therefore, using a poster as a vehicle of communication and an invitation to participate in the yearbook, and keeping student inclusivity, is the top priority. This became very clear to me after meeting my fellow 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 his passion for 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 followed this same philosophy and incorporated this information purposefully into 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. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41064620
What began as constructing layouts that portrayed the histories of families connected with the school became a tradition for the yearbook throughout Joon Kim's tenure. Their school had generations of the same family that had graduated, as many schools around the US can relate. What a dynamic way of portraying school history, and increasing many more faces of students into the yearbook.
Other layouts, such as advertisements, were once bland, nondescript places to slap on business logos, 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.
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. Remember, names must be tracked so that the students involved in everything are not featured on every page. Use indexes to make sure you are gaining a fuller representation of the student body. Intention in gaining a fuller representation of the student body requires a method or system to track this. Layout design doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
As a result of Kim's purposeful intent to include everyone in the yearbook by answering the question, "Who is getting left out of 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! A simple poster reminded me of the positive impact of inclusivity and how yearbook staff must intentionally pursue that goal.
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. We hope that our poster, “Belonging” will be your choice to download, print, and hang outside your yearbook classroom door. You can download this poster and our others for 20% off for a limited time! 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.
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.