The Yearbook

I was the new yearbook teacher this semester. Yearbook was an elective for secondary students. I had 14 kids in the class: 2 freshmen, 1 sophomore, 3 juniors, and 8 seniors. Luckily half of them were in my Computer Graphic Design class in the fall, so many were familiar with design principles and the computer programs. We used Scribus to layout the spreads and Gimp to edit photographs. Some students used Inkscape to create vector artwork.

I was a bit intimidated to teach the class since I was never on yearbook staff in high school or in college. I was, however, on my college’s newspaper staff, so I had experience with publication design. I am very thankful to one of my college professors who gave me some fantastic resources.

The first week, I had all of the students sign up for a Gmail account if they didn’t have one already. For almost every step of the process, I had students refer to documents on Google Drive. We had a spread assignment sheet, student and faculty lists, style guide information, and more. Every student was assigned a grade level mugshot and feature page. After that, they were assigned various spreads. We referred to these as spread #3, #4, and #5. If a student couldn’t remember what their next assignment was, I told them to look it up online.

Click here to download my spread assignment sheet.


Yearbook spread assignment sheet


We spent the first 4 weeks of the semester learning about publication design, copy writing, yearbook spreads, photography, and photo editing. After that, we had less than 15 weeks to write and edit articles, create mock ups, edit photos, make revisions, and finalize the pages.


Yearbook editing marks


While I had students print out some of their spreads, a lot of my grading was done on the school server. Our tech director set up preferences so I had access to all folders and files. This made it easier for me to check alignment, resolution, file links, etc.


Yearbook comps


I was so excited the yearbooks arrived today!


Yearbook delivery


The class voted and decided on the theme “A Lion’s Tale.” Our mascot is the lion.


Yearbook Cover


The students did excellent work! One of the seniors created the table of contents with absolutely no art direction from me:


Yearbook table of contents


Every grade had a “mugshot” spread and an additional feature spread that included an article about the class:


Yearbook mugshot page


We had 14 seniors this year. Another senior came up with the idea and design for these pages:


Yearbook senior spreads


We highlighted all of the school’s extra curricular activities. Most of these ended up being 1 page spreads:


Yearbook 1 page spreads


School events were 2-page spreads:


Yearbook 2 page spread


The yearbook class was so creative! They thought up and executed a staff face-swap page. Can you find David’s and my face or body?


A fun page where students mixed the faces of the staff


I put together the index page with the help of several students:


Yearbook index page


A junior designed the front and back cover. Most students created cover options and we voted on our favorite:


Back cover of the yearbook


Today was the first of the half days for finals. We’ll distribute the yearbooks on Monday. I can’t wait!


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  • Reply DiMy

    I am SO impressed! GREAT JOB!!!

    June 10, 2013 at 10:49 am
  • Reply amylmurray

    Would you be willing to share your staff assignment sheet? I am looking for examples…if you would share, will you email it? [email protected] I am so very appreciative!

    September 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm
  • Reply Becky

    Hi Leah,

    My family also works at a school overseas, AVA in Belem, Brazil. I was just asked by the director if I would help with putting together a yearbook…for this year. Yep, nothing like last minute stuff. I have experience with layout, etc. My husband suggested we just use CreateSpace to print the yearbooks which will allow on-demand printing per book with no extra costs. I also just found TreeRing as another option but need to find out more about them since they don’t have an option for overseas. (Btw, how did you have the books get to you?)

    Was wondering if you could give me any insight as to what the best way to proceed is. I followed your links to Gimp and Scribus, and noticed Scribus gives a PDF file which is what I would need for CreateSpace. I’m assuming my students could download it and we can all work together on it? That’s where I’m a little fuzzy. With TreeRing it seems all yearbook staff would have online access to working on the layout by using a password.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can email me at rebbeca (at) rowley (dot) org. Thanks!

    March 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm
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