In the yearbook world, judging a book by its cover sounds harsh, yet it is our reality. It’s a super important piece: the cover holds the book together while introducing the theme and its visual elements. We also use the cover to promote yearbook sales. Because of this, our staff gets pumped when we work with schools to take their cover from ideation to completion. Together, we grabbed our favorite covers and compiled a handful to inspire others with their displays of school spirit, artistry, and thematic elements.
Our Favorite Covers Started with Developed Themes
We love a great yearbook theme (frankly, that’s why we offer 300+ to users). A developed yearbook theme builds on what’s trending on campus, such as new construction or an all-school volunteerism initiative. It inspires spin-offs, headlines, and coverage. It tells the story of this year.
Epic Themes and Epic Covers
Scarsdale, NY’s Greenacres Elementary School used school and world events to guide theme copy in their book. Over five spreads, they detailed the highlights of the class of 2022’s journey on campus from their days in kindergarten during the 2016 school year to the move to middle school. Each fifth grader’s portrait is paired with their kindergarten one.
We first saw St. Xavier Catholic School in Juction City, KS’s yearbook cover when the team entered the #TreeringMemoriesMatter Contest. By creating St. Xavier Xopoly, the team demonstrated the strong culture on campus. On the dividers, they used game-like spaces to continue the theme. We never smiled so much over being sent to detention.
Virginia’s Governor’s School for the Arts combined travel and the pandemic into their student-designed cover art. Inside, the dividers combine the pen and ink aesthetic from the cover with photo collages created by digital artists on campus, taking us on a voyage through a year of development and discovery.
Why we Love Yearbook Cover Contests
Cover contests are popular with elementary and middle schools. They unite the student body around the yearbook theme or the school’s mascot (more on mascots below). Besides gathering original art from campus creators, it’s a marketing tool to sell more yearbooks.
2 Cover Contest Winners
Nebbie Williams Elementary from Rockwall, TX chose the Presley yearbook theme by Treering Yearbooks and used its rocking graphics to inspire the art direction. A sixth grader designed the winning cover for the 25th anniversary book and runners-up appear on the back.
Another original art plus Treering Yearbooks theme book that caught our attention was La Costa Heights Elementary from Carlsbad, CA. The parent-led yearbook team selected the “Dream Big” theme and filled the yearbook with inspirational quotes. They revealed the theme to the students on campus when they launched their yearbook cover contest and the students interpreted it in their submissions.
Spirit Book Covers
We call mascot and school color-centric yearbooks “spirit books” because they tell the story of the year wrapped in school elements. Some schools create an iteration of their mascot each year on the cover, others do it to celebrate anniversary years or big moves.
The cover is a show-stopper, and the story behind the yearbook makes Chateauguay Valley Regional High School in Ormstown, Quebec, Canada more than a favorite: the team there is why we do what we do. When the school year began, there was not going to be a yearbook, so a group of students stepped in to create and promote it. (We’re not crying either!)
Davis Intermediate serves fifth and sixth graders in Wylie, TX. The school’s motto is “A marauder… a swashbuckler searching for the greatest treasure of all… the treasure found within!” This cover contest winner encapsulates yearbook gold.
In Austin, TX, Purple Sage Elementary used art class to facilitate their annual cover contest. The art teacher brought in old yearbooks for students to look at, taught lessons on how to draw the mascot, and explained the concept of a yearbook to younger students. The Purple Sage faculty selected the winner from 48 entries: the top vote recipient is on the front, second place on the back. The ten finalists appear on the title page.
The Value of Student-Driven Yearbooks
The common element: our favorite yearbook covers began with a student-created piece. Student Emma Lorenz from Haywood High School in Hayward, CA said, “Seeing my own art be a part of my school’s history feels like a dream. I’m always on a journey to improve my art and I can’t wait to one day look back at this cover.”
What will your students create this year?