Your school yearbook is a great way to promote a stronger sense of belonging for each student in your school. Oftentimes, the majority of your students feel left by the wayside, as “stars” in academics and athletics garner much of the attention on your campus and across the pages of your yearbook. Students may feel like they don’t belong, like their voice isn’t being heard. Why should they trust that the school cares about them when they don’t spend any time focusing on them? Luckily, the yearbook can play a significant role in rebuilding this trust. When you strive to create a more inclusive yearbook, you give every student the opportunity to feel like part of the fabric that makes up your school. And when all of your students feel like they belong, you support a friendly, happier environment around your entire campus. Building this trust can begin by simply including more students in genuine ways. Below, I’ll give you some of my favorite tips for getting your yearbook committee to reach out to a wider variety of students. In no time, you’ll expand your content and build a more inclusive feel to your publication as a whole.
Set Coverage Goals
To engage your entire student body, you need to teach your yearbook committee to be intentional about how they connect. First, set a goal for the number of times each student should appear within your book. This gives your team something tangible to work towards. Use your yearbook index as a way to identify students who have not frequently appeared within your book, and brainstorm ideas with your committee to cover different activities those students might participate in, or different features in which they could appear. Make your coverage goals a priority, and you’ll be well on your way to showing students that they matter.
Reach Out Intentionally
While your yearbook committee members may not regularly interact with the students you identified above, they can still reach out to incorporate them in your book in a genuine way. The key is to be intentional in how you reach out. Don’t just create a spot for each individual in the yearbook. While it’s good to interview a variety of students for the ‘Do you like the new school mascot?’ feature, this wouldn’t be the kind of genuine connection that will foster trust. Instead, be sure to also find a way to incorporate them because of their skills, hobbies, or interests. This builds them into your yearbook in a natural way, showing that their contributions to your school matter.
For example, if they participate in a club or activity that’s not affiliated with your school, you could consider including a spread within your book that focuses on four or five students who are active in cool off-campus clubs. Or perhaps a group of students has a garage band that you could create a short article about. Maybe they won an awesome award for a science project, or something that they built. The possibilities are endless–you just need to think outside the box, then reach out to each of these students with the intent to include them in a specific, meaningful way.
Expand Your Committee for an Inclusive Yearbook
It’s only natural: the more diverse your yearbook committee is, the wider your reach will be. The more your committee knows about the different groups of students at your school, the easier it will be to identify unique interests and characteristics, making it even easier for you to come up with distinct content ideas to include students who haven’t appeared as regularly on the pages of your books in the past.
To bring a more diverse committee together, you need to push your recruiting efforts today. Start by sending out an email to your school, encouraging students and parents to get involved with your committee. List a few of the ways they’ll have fun, such as:
- Meeting new friends
- Exploring their creative abilities
- Learning new talents
- Creating an awesome school environment
- Getting class credit, if applicable
As the summer winds down, prepare posters that you can put up around the school, encouraging more students and parents on your campus to join. Make it very clear how they can sign up, and whether you have a sign-up deadline. Then, include a note about joining your yearbook committee within your school announcements for the first week of classes. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick message about the benefits of joining the yearbook committee, along with instructions on how to sign up, will do. With a little foresight, you’ll definitely be on the path to building a more inclusive yearbook from the start of the school year, and making sure that each student trusts in their school, and knows that they belong.