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Maximize Coverage in an Inclusive Yearbook

April 2 Autism Awareness Day artwork for yearbook featuring a boy and his rainbow creation

Each spring stories of yearbooking-gone-wrong inundate the media: from inappropriate senior quotes to accounts of students being left out, school yearbooks do not get positive press. Let’s change that! By building an inclusive yearbook, we can build morale on campus and showcase each member of the community.

Tooting our own horn here for a sec: TreeRing is the definitive inclusive yearbook company from our custom pages to thought pieces on the subject. All that to say, we’re here to help.

Use Inclusive Language

It’s not always necessary to identify a student with a disability. The Associated Press has a list of inclusive and exclusive language and the American Psychological Association advocates for the use of the subject’s preference for identity-first language or people-first language.

Advocates agree: when we speak of a classmate and hyperbolize “all that she is doing to overcome her difficulties” or we describe him as “suffering from X” we are not honoring the individual.

Special Considerations for Including Students with Disabilities

To paraphrase the Student Press Law Center, yearbooks cannot separate or denote students as members of special education programs because it is a part of their private student record. Check with your district to see if they have a specific policy.

Class of Champions yearbook theme with multicultural graphics
In the TreeRing design application, customers have access to over three hundred themes and a library of tens of thousands of graphics, overlays, and backgrounds to mix and match to create a yearbook that is uniquely theirs. (And it’s all free!)

Artwork that is Reflective of your Community

Inclusive artwork can serve two purposes: decorative pieces to enhance your yearbook theme and student creations to include more members of your student body. Let’s tackle both!

Theme Art

Does your yearbook look like your student body? As a mamá with a family built on adoption as well as biology, I’m endeared to this concept. If you are using clip art people in your yearbook, find a diverse collection.

Yearbook cover contest call for submissions
Cover contests allow students not on the yearbook team to contribute to their yearbook. Credit: Beaver Technology Center

Student Artwork

Since an inclusive yearbook theme represents students and their interests, including student art is one way to feature more students.

Art classes, at the middle and high school level, are generally included in your academics sections. These tend to be in-progress photos. Adding a gallery to show final products is a way to credit the creations campus artists make.

Cover contests spotlight campus artists on the outside of your book; some schools use the runners up on the back or on a special spread inside the book. For your cover contest, you could ask students to use the school mascot or the yearbook theme. Another idea would be to do a contest for the title page.
Furthermore, additional student art can also be included on custom pages! Seriously, parents, we really don’t need bins of paper plate masks in the family archives.

Monitoring Coverage for an Inclusive Yearbook

Can you even ensure inclusivity if you’re not tagging? 

Let’s be frank. Our job as yearbook advisers, coordinators, and chairs is to showcase our students. All. Of. Them.

Tagging photos and monitoring coverage are the easiest way to ensure you are featuring all the members of your campus community. It’s an additional step, and a necessary one. Pair your #photodumpFriday with a “Tag ‘em Tuesday” to ensure you have each student in the book.

Industry standard is three times. This is easier than we think: school portrait plus

  • Academics photos
  • Club or team photos
  • Pull quote
  • Feature story
  • Index letter
  • Folio
  • Student life feature
  • Buddy pic
  • Spirit Week/Halloween/Career Day/Crazy Hair dress up collage (or three)
  • Field trips

If your yearbook publisher has an indexing or coverage counter feature, then you can track the number of times a student is placed in your yearbook. (For quotes only, place a tiny photo on the spread at 100% transparency to track.)

Use Your Index to Increase Coverage

Indexes are ugly. They are walls of words. They look like dictionaries. But they don’t have to! 

Blended coverage can happen on every spread in your book. Here are some ways our advisers maximize the real estate at the back of their book:

  • Make it truly a reference section by including club and team photos plus scoreboards
  • Mix in ads with the index
  • Use the letters to add additional coverage such as feature stories or personality profiles

Whichever you choose, be sure to incorporate your theme colors and fonts to ensure a cohesive look from cover to cover.

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