The opportunity to work on the yearbook attracts a lot of student applicants. The idea of making a giant scrapbook is alluring, and sponsors need the right people.
All students want to be involved with the yearbook. They want to be in the yearbook, they want to use the cameras, computers, and other equipment, and they want to be involved with deciding what moments are declared "yearbook moments". Sponsors have a responsibility to the students and parents who pay for the books to find the best people for the job. Often, this can become an after school activity for gifted students.
Size of the Yearbook Staff
The size of the staff will depend on the size of the book, the size of the school, and the age of the students involved. A sponsor should have at least one editor assigned to "mugshot photos" - the small school pictures appearing in the book.
One editor should be assigned to sports, one editor assigned to clubs, and one editor assigned to after school activities. Each grade should have at least one editor to cover in school activities, and depending on how active the school is, there should be an editor to cover guest speakers and whole-school presentations. This means that the yearbook staff of an average high-school will have a minimum of 8 students, because the same students who edit can also take pictures and write for the other sections.
Roles of the Yearbook Staff
Yearbooks come together much like a quilt -- students gather pictures, ideas, quotes, and stories, and periodically through the year the staff sews the book together. General roles include:
These students are responsible for specific sections of the book. Editors make sure page layouts look profession, words are correctly used and spelled, and that stories, pictures, and quotations fit the theme and goal of the yearbook. Editors help establish story ideas, including scheduling surveys and mining for quotations. They may have to learn software such as Josten's Yearbook Avenue.
These students are responsible for gathering pictures for the yearbooks. They must be willing to attend after-school activities, including club meetings and presentations, to get pictures. They must be friendly, outgoing, and respectful, and they should have a sense of balance in photography.
These students are responsible for collecting surveys, conducting interviews, and writing stories. These are students who will be capturing the story of their school, so they should be able to write clearly and in a voice that appeals to students and the adults who pay for the yearbooks. They should be able to avoid cliches and other common writing mistakes, and they need to stay motivated to write.
Students need to cover multiple roles, because a yearbook staff does not need to be overpopulated. Once mugshot names are edited, that editor is available to help other editors with their sections. When sports are not in season, that particular student can help in other areas. Roles blend into one efficient team.
Finding a Yearbook Staff
It is important to hold a meeting about the yearbook at the same time that the yearbook staff will be meeting after-school. Sponsors should explain the goals of the yearbook and what qualifications he or she is looking for in staff members. If students need to have internet access outside of school, access to a specific level of hardware or camera, or be available at certain times after school, the sponsor should stress that before taking applications. The sponsor should then have students submit an application explaining why he or she wants to be on the yearbook staff, including samples of writing or photography.
Creating a yearbook is stressful, busy, and rewarding. Yearbook advisers should take the time to find the best students to wear the many hats involved in creating the yearbook. Finding the right staff and keeping the staff to a reasonable size will reduce the stress, manage the work, and increase the rewards.
Originally posted to Suite101 in October 2008.
Ally Sharp is a teacher, writer and editor, and technology trainer.