Essential Yearbook Sections: Part I - Spotlight on the Seniors

The senior section is a chance to look at the students' past, present, and future.

While each and every school yearbook may have different content and images to represent their students, most of them contain some fairly universal yearbook sections. You know the essentials: you have to cover all of the student body, the teachers, the activities, the academics, and so on. But you may be scratching your head for what to specifically include in each section, how to make them fun and fresh, and what unique aspects you can bring to each to make your book truly stand out.

Stay tuned this week as we highlight a different section of the yearbook each day, and provide general overviews, section specifics, and fun ideas. For the purpose of this blog, we are going to focus on a high school yearbook, but keep in mind most of these ideas will carry over or can be tailored for your elementary, middle school, and/or college yearbook.

SENIOR SECTION

Seniors are a vital part of a high school yearbook. This is a chance for them to look at the past, present, and future.
Image source: Flickr CC user Brandon Andersen.

We’ve seen senior sections covered in a variety of ways. Some have posed, professionally-taken portraits, while others leave each page for the student to tailor as they see fit. Some contain wills & prophecies, while others have a “guess that baby” photo page. Whatever you choose to do, first focus on covering the basics.

THE BASICS

  • Names and nicknames: You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. Not that you’d forget to include everyone’s names, but take the time to ensure each and every name is spelled correctly. There’s no bigger bummer than looking back at your legacy, and seeing that your name is spelled wrong. Also, many people do not go by their full, given name. It’s also a good idea to leave room for students to submit their nicknames or whatever other name they went by under the line of their full name.
  • Represent each senior: There are always going to be students that are not comfortable having their picture taken.  And even as much as every parent tries to force their child into that “head-and-shoulders” shot, there will still be those that don’t come through with a senior picture by the submission date. However, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored, or shouldn’t be represented in a fun and interesting way. After all, I can guarantee for most there will come a day when they regret not having a part in the yearbook, so go ahead and include them.
    • You could use a candid photo taken by the yearbook photographer, so long as they are still okay with having a photo of themselves in the book.
    • You could have a small graphic at the end that simply says “Camera Shy” and lists all of the seniors who did not submit portraits.
  • Get a group shot: Whether the senior class has 800 students or 80 students, there are tight-knit groups within the class that should be highlighted. Make sure to organize a group photo-op for the entire class. Here are some options:
    • You could congregate everyone on sports bleachers or stairs that everyone can stand on. That way they will be on different levels, and everyone can be seen.
    • Have the class sit on the lawn outside of school – ideally on a hill. Then, have the (brave) photographer take the photos from the roof, or looking down on the group in some way, so that everyone will be seen in the photo. If you want to fun-it-up, have them sit in an order that spells out their graduation year, or the school name or initials.
    • Use the gym and bleachers as an easy way to assemble everyone in one space. They can choose whom to sit with, what level to sit on, and everyone will be able to fit. Keep in mind you may have to take photos section by section and then string them together, depending on class size.
  • Include candid photos: It’s nice to show seniors looking polished and mature in their senior portraits, but don’t forget to show the other elements of who they are, what they did, and their place in the school. Include pictures of the seniors in classes, at pep rallies, hanging out with friends, in the homecoming parade, playing sports, running club meetings, and so on. This is their legacy, and their time in school should be represented in a well-rounded way. It’s also important to include childhood friend photos – many classmates grew up together from age five or before, and it’s fun to look back that far.

Now that you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to move onto the fun stuff.

UNIQUE SENIOR “PORTRAITS”

  • Caricatures: In addition to the professional portraits for seniors, try representing them in an artistic and amusing way. Hire a caricature artist to come and draw an image of each senior. Caricatures generally focus on what makes up a subject’s facial features, and then adds in things that represent them – like maybe the soccer captain is kicking a winning goal in his image, or the valedictorian is in a library with her nose in a book. This could be a fun way for people to look back at more than what they actually looked like, but also how others saw them and what represented them.
  • Design your own senior page: Provide each student with the opportunity to create their own senior page with TreeRings’s customizable pages. Encourage them to include a current photo of themselves, and then add in any additional photos, special quotes, fun graphics, important memories, baby photos, and any other items that represent them. This is a great way for everyone to feel like they had a hand in the yearbook, which will inspire participation all around and encourage more people to actually purchase the book.

EXTRA FUN ELEMENTS

  • Wills & prophecies: One of our earlier blog posts went into much more detail on what a senior legacy is and how to create wills and prophecies for that legacy. In short, wills are a way to leave inside jokes, events, and other special secrets to your friends, family, and teachers. Prophecies are a projection of who you are now, and what you will be in the future. This is a really special way for people to look back on who they were in school, see how close their predictions were, and help them remember to look up old friends.
  • Baby photos: Baby and childhood photos are a must for any senior section. These are a great way to show the evolution of growing up, and that seniors are moving onto the next phase of their life.
    • To make it more of a game, create a page with every senior’s baby  photo and a number associated with each. People will have fun trying to guess who’s who. To help out, put the answer key on the bottom of the page upside down, or on the last page of the book.
    • If you choose to go with incorporating wills & prophecies, include each baby photo with the senior’s legacy.
  • Senior superlatives: Schools have taken different approaches to superlatives – creating those specifically tailored to the school, using the old stand-bys, or making enough so that each senior wins at least one. Whatever you choose to do, these are always a fun element that people enjoy voting on, photographing, and eventually looking back at. It’s a light-hearted way to represent how one’s peers saw each other, and what quirky personality traits made them unique.
  • Quotes: Each senior can include a quote that they particularly like, that they say frequently, or that they can relate to. Some will choose to use a song lyric or famous quote. Others will choose to make their own inspirational quote, funny saying, or motto they frequently use. I know for myself, my everyday saying was, “I don’t feel good,” as I woke up each morning…  as a means to convince my mom to let me have one day of playing hooky (it never worked). And it was ironic, or not at all, that I was also voted Class Hypochondriac. Quotes can be included along with wills & prophecies, with baby photos, right under the senior’s name and portrait, or anywhere else you may choose.

Whatever you decide to incorporate into your yearbook’s senior section, make sure that it accurately and fairly represents each senior, that it contains lots of memories, and that it is something everyone will have fun looking back on.

Don’t forget to check out tomorrow’s blog for Part II, on how to create your yearbook’s sports section!

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