14 Feb Celebrating Children’s Achievements
Long, long ago, there was a time when only three people had a computer, phones made phone calls (and little else), Facebook was faces in a book and Instagram wasn’t in the dictionary (a book in which to find the meaning of words). Back then people sent actual rather than virtual cards, played games in the same room as other players and collected photos from a shop after an excited four-day wait. Those were the days!
Perhaps you love the modern world of instant messaging, online celebrations and shared everything but can you deny that we’ve lost something when it comes to treasures, especially treasured memories? Children might have less to carry coming home from school but what do you pass round the in-laws when they drop in, leave ‘accidentally’ on the coffee table or haul out to embarrass your secretly pleased children? It’s interesting that even Facebook now offers printed versions of your photos or hastily uploaded comments – complete with grammatical errors, terrible spelling and regretted expressions.
There should be no mistakes in your school yearbook; it is a thing of beauty, a treasure that celebrates and captures the achievements of your children and their school. Parents and students can trace their progress and schools, colleges and nurseries can see and hold their own history as it unfolds. The yearbook tells a story; it is both exciting and inviting and suggests fun and relaxation like a magazine, in contrast to the more traditional prospectus.
Every parent’s first handling of the yearbook will be a quick leafing through to find their child. The best yearbooks go beyond the profile pictures and include children in action – lessons, performances, sports, trips and, if you want something thoroughly modern, posing and pouting to camera.
A good design company will provide a graphic designer, print manager, photographer and art director but also involve the school as much as they want to be involved. Headteacher, governors, teachers, parents, children – whose direct input do you want? Teachers often love to feel a part of it and are willing to contribute articles and photos they have taken thus sharing the production process and perhaps seeing their names in print.
Schools may decide on a colour scheme or a theme, provide photos, ideas or features that celebrate a current achievement or milestone. Achievement – the school’s, the community’s, the child’s – needs to be clear, accessible and celebratory! This is the time to show off, not demurely skulk away!
Given the power of the yearbook to portray a school’s unique selling points, it can be immensely useful as an accompaniment to the prospectus, though some schools choose the yearbook over the prospectus as it provides a greater insight into all the school’s achievements. With its less formal style, its pictures and shorter articles, it also reaches beyond current pupils and parents to prospective ones, the local community and other key target audiences. This easy-read style keeps on working for a school long after it is initially released.
This should be a storybook with plenty of pictures; photographs are key to the yearbook. There should be room for several from your recent archives – or possibly from a photography art project – but there is nothing to compare with the know-how and experience of a professional photographer in producing the right quality and design to delight students, parents and staff alike. Only a video does better in showcasing the many and varied qualities, activities and successes of a school, many of which parents may have been unaware. But a video can’t be taken to the party next door or left open on a hallway table… so both have their appeal.
Quality is important. The feel, even the smell, of a glossy cover; the sound of pages as they fall neatly into place – you want something that will be passed around and admired many times before it takes it place on the shelf, where it still looks good! A school and design company together can consider what not only looks and feels special but what reflects the character and values of the school. Some schools trumpet their own nationality – tartan in Scotland, for example; others want to look fun and approachable or classic and timeless. Some schools adopt a certain style that runs through all their yearbooks and others prefer something that belongs to that particular year. From year to year sizes can vary if you want character or even quirkiness, but a row of similarly produced volumes has an enduring quality that shines out from the shelf. There are as many options as there are schools and selecting from them can engage teachers and other staff, students, volunteer helpers and parents.
At the end of the story the yearbook has captured the school’s special occasions, events and triumphs and included enough relevant memories for every child. In fact, they all live happily ever after and are probably uploaded to Instagram!