I joined the Yearbook staff at my high school after one of my friends would inform me about all the fun they were having in Yearbook, including pizza parties and games of "Dirty Santa". Little did I know, the room the class was held in what was basically a closet with computers that sometimes felt like you were in sauna. My first year I was quite clueless on how to do online design, interview students, and take pictures at school events, but once year two came into full swing I felt more prepared having that prior knowledge. Below are some of the things that being a part of Yearbook has done for me.
1. It broke me out of my shell.
During my first year in Yearbook, I felt like an outsider to an already close-knit group. They welcomed me with open arms and challenged me to break out of my comfort zone. Never had I imagined interviewing complete strangers, designing yearbook pages by myself, or standing on the sidelines at a football game. It was intimidating at first, I will admit, but it was worth it.
2. I made new connections with people I probably would have never met beforehand.
In order to get the most accurate and interesting information for our book, it was obvious I needed to talk to people. Individuals such as teachers, students, coaches, principals and club sponsors offered tremendous insight to help further our program. Those newly-formed relationships usually were sustained after the initial conversation, making it easier to communicate crucial information for proofing purposes or just to get anything else necessary. I could wave at these people and they would ask me questions like, "When is the yearbook coming out? How is my spread coming along?"
3. My staff members are now some of my closest friends.
One of the main reasons I chose to stay on the Yearbook staff was my friends convinced me to. (Hannah and Hallie, if you are reading this, thank you.) Whether it be sharing stories during lunch in Mrs. Turner's room, going on photography missions in the middle of class, or meeting a Panera to make sure we did not miss a deadline, there was never a dull moment. I still text some of the past staff members on a daily basis and update them on the status of the book.
4. It improved my photography skills and taught me that manual settings are not as scary as you think.
Until last year, the words ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance all seemed like a foreign language. For years I never strayed too far from the default settings on my camera since I had no clue how to do much else. My adviser took a chunk of the first semester to make sure we understood how to take pictures on the manual settings, and what that meant.
5. I got to cover a variety of events, diversifying my photography and writing opportunities.
You name it, I have probably photographed it before. If there is a club, I have probably writing copy for their spread in the yearbook at some point.
6. The interviewing process became less awkward.
Have you ever had to interview high school football players? Well, if you have not, you learn very quickly how to adapt the questions you have to the person you are consulting. Talking to players and coaches was scary for a while, no doubt. I would have to mentally prepare myself for about fifteen minutes before actually consulting them, but it comes naturally after a while.
7. Online design was so much fun, and making templates made me feel accomplished.
Our publishing company has an amazing online design program that our school uses. With the help of some walk-throughs and fiddling around with buttons, the amount of template and module possibilities were endless. I spent hours during the summer designing custom templates, becoming more and more inspired as I went along.
8. Selling business ads made me more aware of the local businesses and how much they care about the schools in the community.
Business ads help fund everything involved in yearbook. You would be surprised how many places love to support the high schools in their area. I got the chance to visit stores I had never stepped foot in just to ask if they would want to purchase an ad!
9. I learned how to handle criticism.
As a staff member, people will complain to you about their last name being spelled wrong. Parents will tell you your incompetent, or yell at you for leaving out their child in the portrait section. Is it your fault? Possibly. Regardless, do not fight fire with fire. Accept their criticism politely and do not let it get you down too much. I dealt with this every year after distribution day- it gave me a major headache and brought me to the verge of tears. Just try to stay positive as much as possible. As Miranda Sings would say,
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10. I could be more than just a follower-- I could be a leader.
That is quite the concept, but it did happen. Being in a leadership position during most of my time in yearbook allowed me to feel not only respected but valued as an individual.
Overall, Yearbook has helped me become a better writer, photographer, facilitator, and person. To anyone who might consider being a part of a yearbook staff, I would highly recommend it. The skills learned through the class or club can be transferred to most fields of study once you graduate. Oh, and the memories you make will stay with you forever. Once a yerd, always a yerd (Yearbook + nerd = yerd).