After all of the deadlines, late hours spent completing pages, arguments over colors, fonts, and technicalities, along with the enormous stress of producing a yearbook worthy of distribution, the staff and the yearbook’s contents are, as expected, criticized or critiqued.
As one of the editor-in-chiefs, I’m always ready to listen to all opinions, but after hearing the overt negative criticism, I was hurt and discouraged. To be honest, many of the complaints I have heard have been quite unreasonable and dense.
Complaint: The yearbook is too short in comparison to other high schools.
This has to do with enrollment. We have roughly 1050 students. A comprehensive high school with a graduating senior class is much more. We also do not have large sports or music programs. If you compare a comprehensive high school’s yearbook to ours, theirs will be lengthier because they do have sports and music programs. An average comprehensive high school that does have these programs may dedicate at least 100 pages to these activities. At Southwest, we only have certain events to cover (and we work to make sure they are included), thus the reason why our yearbook is so “short.” If we did our job right, however, your year should be reflected throughout the book at the current length.
Complaint: “It’s too expensive! I don’t have enough money to buy a yearbook.”
Our yearbook is cheaper than others because we have lesser pages. We knew that the price would be an issue, so we set up payment plans during the first semester. There were numerous chances for people to buy the book.
Complaint: “You didn’t cover this event!”
Our publisher has a deadline of March, meaning that the whole yearbook must be finished by that time. We couldn’t cover the Talent Show and other events because it was after our deadline.
Complaint: “There’s too much writing! No one reads the yearbook!”
We made a yearbook, not a scrapbook. Yearbooks record memories, meaning that all the dates, events, quotes, and everything else worth remembering are recorded for the future. Scrapbooks do not tell stories. They only show what happened. Imagine that you’re 50 years old, and you can barely remember your high school experience. Do you want to see only pictures and not have reference information for the context of the photo? If you’re seriously bothered about “too much writing,” keep in mind that the award-winning and traditional yearbooks typically have 4-5 paragraphs of text, as well as photo captions, per page.
Complaint: “It’s so boring! There’s not enough color on this page!”
Too many colors are distracting, and it looks more like a middle school yearbook, rather than a high school yearbook. It’s more sophisticated to have simple backgrounds and color choices. Besides, colors do not make the page; the way we compose the spread, the photos, and the captions (essentially the visuals) are the reasons why yearbooks are appealing. For example, there are yearbooks that are printed in black and white, but they are still exceptional. Colors are just bonuses.
Complaint: “I could do so much better.”
If you have experience and would like to assist us with Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, please let us know. If you have creative ideas for the yearbook, let us know. The runway spread on page 30 (which took two weeks) repeatedly crashed, and we thought we were not going to make our deadline. The Photoshop collage on page 68 also took quite a bit of time, and its composition is intentional so it appears to be as though someone was editing all the photos. This might seem simple to the average viewer, but we can attest that it is not.
We can never produce the “perfect” yearbook; however, we are always finding room for improvement and creativity. This is only our second year, and this book is a big improvement from last year. Future editions of the yearbook will continue to surpass the past yearbooks, both with content and appearance. The staff is always learning new things. We do take your suggestions in consideration (such as background content, colors, and copies), but we must make the final decision for the entire student body.
Next year, we will offer a supplement, which will the cover the months of April, May, and June. This includes senior prom, Grad Night, graduation, and much more. Furthermore, we will be making every effort to collaborate with student clubs to pick the best photos. If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask anyone on the staff. We’ll be more than happy to listen.