Yearbook Hero Grace Montemar's Show-Stopping Design

Yearbook Hero Grace Montemar

Treering Yearbook Heroes is a monthly feature focusing on yearbook tips and tricks.

In March, Treering Yearbooks announced its 2022 #TreeringMemoriesMatter Design Contest for yearbook advisers, coordinators, and editors to share their unique perspectives from their campus community. It’s time to meet the winners and glean their best practices for yearbook spread design.

Grace Montemar is the Yearbook Club Adviser from Edison Regional Gifted Center in Chicago, IL. Her team earned first place in the middle school division for their “Aesthetic” spread. The reporting and design distinguished this spread.

Tell us about this show-stopper.

While we like to include several recurring spreads that appear in our school’s yearbook each year, we still like to introduce a few new features as well. This fresh feature allowed Yearbook Club to spotlight classmates from various grades whose fashion sense stood out from the crowd. The students who were invited to participate enjoyed answering a brief questionnaire that helped to illustrate their distinctive style.

How does Edison RGC design the book? 

I typically like starting with a general template but then customizing it to suit the needs of the specific spread. Some of my yearbook students prefer creating a layout from scratch, which takes much longer. But if they’re committed to doing it this way (and time allows for it), then it’s totally fine. 

I also try to manage expectations upfront so they understand that there will usually be a lot of polishing involved before their spread is fully ready for publishing in the yearbook. One thing that my yearbook students love is seeing their names attached to their work. It gives them a sense of pride to see their byline displaying their name and grade on any spreads that they’re involved in.

What does your role look like as a club adviser?

My responsibilities include recruiting and training the 6th-8th graders who join Yearbook Club, running the weekly meetings, empowering the students to help build the ladder and decide content, art directing them in designing their layouts, and helping them to proofread, edit, and write copy. 

I also handle the marketing aspects––sending announcements to key channels for sharing with the intent of promoting sales with parents, as well as encouraging photo submissions.

How do you gather photos?

Pre-pandemic, the majority of photos were taken by myself, and/or I recruited parents who had an eye for photography to cover events that I couldn’t attend. With in-person events slowly starting to happen this school year, I’ve been able to resume taking some photos but we’re still relying more on community submissions than we have in past years. In order to keep the submissions coming, we periodically request specific photos throughout the year (to avoid receiving an onslaught of images too late in the production timeline).

What advice would you give to another person who is just getting started?

Congrats on accepting your role with the yearbook! It can feel overwhelming to take on this endeavor but you’ll do just fine. Here are some tips to help you: 

  1. Take things one step at a time––but don’t wait. If you work on the yearbook little by little, regularly, and continuously, it’ll be much easier to produce, as opposed to cramming and rushing everything all at once at the end. 
  2. Ask for help from your community when you need it. Need more photo submissions? Be sure to ask for help from the room parents and PTO in spreading the word. Still trying to recruit students? Ask for help from the principal or certain teachers in drumming up interest. You’d be surprised who’s willing to help (and how) if you just ask.

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