Building Unique Yearbook Spreads: Part I - School Traditions

Use school traditions as a way to create unique yearbook spreads.

Not long ago, we provided a thorough review of typical yearbook sections, along with the must-haves and fun possible additions for each section. While most yearbooks are bound to consist of these same basics, unique yearbook spreads are a fun way for schools to add a personal angle. Each day this week, we will focus on a different idea for a standout, distinctive yearbook spread.

Starting out this week will be our coverage of school traditions.

Every school has some sort of tradition, whether it be pep rally contests, playful mascot stealing, sacred concerts, or town rivalries. They take on different customs that define them and build memories. They bring about school unity, passion, and encourage community participation. Not to mention, these traditions are a great way to create a truly one-of-a-kind yearbook spread. Because no two schools are the same, your yearbook spread will differ from every other school in the world. To get started, let’s explore some of my high school’s best traditions.

Homecoming week was chock-full of fun traditions. The lead-up to the football game was spirit week, which consisted of quirky themes that offered some great photo ops!  If this isn’t something your school generally takes on, start the trend to seek out some amazing yearbook material.

Each school will have its own themes, but here are some examples to get your started: Maybe Mondays were “Manic Mondays” – people had that “just rolled out of bed look,” complete with messy hair, smeared makeup, sweatpants, and half-asleep looks. Maybe Tuesday was “Timewarp Tuesday,” and students wore their favorite retro outfit from a different decade – you could even assign a different decade to each grade for some grade unity. Wednesday’s red carpet look brought out the glitz and glam, while Thursday’s “Dress Like Your Favorite Teacher” inspired some comical interpretations. Friday’s theme focused on the school colors, as everyone prepared for the customary pep rally.

Every school is fraught with time-honored traditions. It is what makes a school unique and iconic.
Image source: Flickr CC Chuck Hagel

A great way to capture these spirited activities is to set up a lunchtime photo booth. This will save you both time away from class, and the agony of chasing down every eccentrically dressed student. The setup can be as simple as draping a solid-colored sheet to act as a backdrop. Try hanging it from a wall near the lunchroom. You can then set up a tripod or go handheld with the camera.  Then as students pass by to grab lunch, which eventually everyone will, you can call them over for a couple quick shots of their unique outfits.

Friday afternoon was, of course, the domain of high-energy pep rallies, where different grades cheered and jeered one another, fun games and contests were played, cheerleaders performed, and everyone sang the school song. Who could forget the announcing of Homecoming court, and the excitement of hearing the new king and queen – who were crowned every year by the graduated king and queen from the previous year.

Pep rallies are the perfect place to grab some memorable candid photos. To make sure you get all the goods, have the yearbook committee sponsor one of the contests. There are a million fun games you can do to get crowd participation. Make sure you are capturing all of the entertaining, humorously awkward, uproarious moments, which will provide you great yearbook content.

Later that night, students poured into their grade floats, which they had worked tirelessly to create from crafty materials and blinged-out according to whatever that year’s theme may be. The floats paraded around town and up to the local park, where (after the winner was announced), we tore the floats apart and burned them in our massive homecoming bonfire. We then danced around the fire, cheered, and overall just made memories. Make sure you document the building of the float, with photos of each phase, so yearbook readers can see how they were created.

Saturday of course brought the big game, which hopefully was against our school rivals – who we lovingly referred to as the “cake eaters” (it’s a long story, don’t ask). At the game, senior football players and cheerleaders were escorted out on the field by their parents in a small but significant ceremony. Later that night was the homecoming dance, where we put on our newest gowns and best dress pants to dance the night way.

I’m sure just by reading this, you are flooded with fun yearbook ideas, such as bright graphics in your school colors, funphoto layouts, peppy borders, and creative content. Use your school’s traditions as the inspiration for whatever that yearbook spread becomes, because these rituals are what make your school unique, and will ultimately make your yearbook one-of-a-kind.

Don’t forget to check out tomorrow’s Part II on school records!

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