Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is the Yearbook Relevant?

In the Fall of 2009 I first attempted to under take the large and daunting task of teaching the yearbook.  On my first day, nervous and overwhelmed, I ran into a colleague in the hall who proceeded to question whether, in the world of social media, where pictures and information are accumulating daily, is the Yearbook necessary anymore?  Is it a dying art?  At the time I didn't know what to think - I hadn't even started the job, and there was a possibility that my job was already irrelevant.  And that question has stuck with me since that day.

Today someone posed the same question to me, but my reaction was very different.  Instead of confusion and contemplation, I knew my answer.  YES.  Yes it is.  The yearbook is relevant! The yearbook doesn't exist in competition with Facebook.  Via Facebook kids share their thoughts, ideas, feelings and actions momentarily.  Pictures are posted, people comment, and it is almost instantaneous.  But regardless of the "permanence" of facebook on the internet, none of these posts, thoughts or pictures are really permanent.  They are passing.  Online social media is about movement.  It shows change and allows us to interact second by second, wherever we are.  The Yearbook isn't that at all.  The Yearbook stands still.

The Yearbook says: I WAS HERE.  For this period of time, I was here.  I was part of this bigger body, this community.  I participated in the Halloween fashion show, and I made fun of Mr. Stroh's moustache.  I wore pink for anti bullying day, and sported that haircut that I'd rather forget.  I loved/hated Justin Bieber and remember Mr. Atwal dressing up as Santa Claus.  For this moment of time, I was HERE.  There is no question.

The Yearbook says:  I BELONG.  It isn't just facts and pictures.  It signifies a community to which everyone belonged.  A good yearbook is one that every student identifies with.  That there is a corner of it for each student to say, YES!  I was part of this community.  I was a member.  I  BELONGED.

The Yearbook says:  I AM PROUD.  To dance.  To sing.  To play the clarinet.  To sport pink hair.  To make up games in PE.  To be a member of a Co-op.  To learn to slam poetry.  To build a robot.  To be a Sullivan Star.  It represents the finest part of school spirit and has the power to remind us why it is we are proud to be one of the many.

The Yearbook says:  I MATTER.  Matter enough for a class of students and a dedicated teacher to show up to Basketball games, and witness drum circles.  Matter enough to stand in the cold watching Rugby, or in the rain watching soccer.  To include poems of our bravest writers and art of the creative.  When I enter a classroom or a gymnasium, students are excited.  To be included.  To matter enough that we are there, on the sidelines, wanted to capture their passions, efforts, joys, successes and failures.  We care.  Because our students matter.  Each one.

The Yearbook is a labour of love.  And for all the arguments I have heard to why Yearbook as a publication is on it's way out, I have heard more for why it is POWERFUL.  And I, for one, cannot wait to hold this one in my hands at the end of the year.  I know what went into it.  Every single ingredient.  And the hours and the props and photos and edits and spreads and manipulations and fonts and foils are all a small part of that.  And far FAR from the most important part.  This book is the spirit of our community.  And I could not be more proud to be a part of it.  I hope you all feel the same.

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