Want A Yearbook Year In Review That Features Your Students? Here’s How To Do It.

your retrospective should feel like a yearbook year in review

Pretty much everyone who has ever been to school is familiar with those yearbook year in review pages that cover the biggest stories and events from outside your school’s walls.

We’re on record as loving them, but they always have us thinking …. What if you took that traditional yearbook year in review treatment and applied it to your school’s most-talked-about trends, events and pop culture influences? That’d be pretty cool, right?

While your yearbook is one, giant inside-these-walls year in review, there’s an advantage to creating a single spread retrospective. And it’s this: A retrospective will give you room to explore all those things that play a role in shaping your students’ years but aren’t, necessarily, part of the events that normally get covered in your yearbook.

The single best way to do this is to talk with your students throughout the year, keep a pulse on what they’re talking about with their friends, and record all that stuff in one place so you can easily build your spread when it’s time. But you can cheat a little, too. And that’s what the rest of this post is about.

Keep reading for some of today’s most-talked-about trends, events and pop culture influences—all sorted by month—and how you can incorporate coverage of that stuff into your book’s retrospective.

Elementary School

If you’re a parent volunteering to work on your child’s elementary school yearbook, finding trends throughout the year can be pretty easy. You just need to pay attention to your child’s interests and the interests of their friends. (And you need to ask your fellow parents to do the same.) The challenging part is framing that information in a compelling way.
If you ask us, we think it’s best to group these trends around school events and outside events that are so popular and pervasive that schools can’t ignore them. Here are the three we’re most excited about:

  • Back-to-School: With backpacks, lunch boxes, and every other possible school supply imaginable being branded these days, back-to-school shopping is the first opportunity parents have to get really dialed in on what their elementary school student is obsessing over. For your retrospective page, highlight those shows, movies, and bands students loved enough to have them carry their books and lunches.
  • Halloween: According to Google Trends, Star Wars and Minions dominated the world of Halloween costume searches. Were either popular with your school’s students? Plenty of elementary schools cover their Halloween parades and “trunk or treats” with a collage or spread, but don’t miss the opportunity to include the same type of coverage in your retrospective. Consider highlighting award-winning costumes or those that ended up being most popular with your students.
  • Holidays: It’s a month-long discussion of who wants what, who got what, and who would rather have gotten what their friends got. The holiday season can be a great time to highlight those toys and gifts that students were totally digging this school year (like hoverboards and shopkins, which hit their peak search frequency this Holiday season).

Middle School

Not to sound all parental or anything, but, man, it can be tough to really understand a middle schooler. So, rather than trying to pin them down and make a bunch of suggestions around what’s been super hot with this age group, here are two ideas that are safely general but can also get really specific to your school’s and your students’ interests:

  • The Summer’s Biggest Songs: For a few weeks at least, the biggest songs of summer remain the biggest songs of the school year. Find out what they are, feature them, and include some great photos of your students whipping and nae nae’ing (if, you know, they were into that).
  • Blockbuster Hits: Where were your middle schoolers on Friday, December 18? If there were like any of the other tens of millions of adolescents and teenagers out there, they were probably waiting for school to let out so they could be among the first to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We say: do a quick poll to find out how many students saw the movie within the first week of it’s release and include that statistic, along with a student-provided photo or two, in your retrospective. And if Star Wars wasn’t a big hit at your school? Spin this part of your retrospective into a more general “Weekend Nights at the Movies” coverage, where you highlight the most popular movies and how your pre-teens decide what to see.

High School

Like an elementary school retrospective, a high school retrospective should include those school-related events that students can’t stop talking about. In this case, we’re thinking events like homecoming, prom, and school-wide pep rallies. But there’s also room for the type of retrospective coverage we recommended in the middle school section—the pop culture events that practically everyone was talking about.

While covering summer’s biggest music hits and the release of Star Wars certainly qualify here, as well, we’ve got some other big-with-the-high-school-crowd ideas, too. Check them out:

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes: Whether you think this seasonal drink comes out too early (it was early September this year!), it doesn’t seem to matter with teenagers, who are practically drinking this stuff by the gallons. Need proof of the popular? Starbucks got a verified Twitter account for their PSL cup this year (yeah, the cup) and a Tumblr page. Get your students to share their pumpkin spice latte love with you for your retrospective.
  • Dabbing: Cam Newton scored a touchdown and did a little celebrating in November, and the rest, they say, is history. Dabbing quickly became the biggest dance craze. Your retrospective should definitely include this. Ask students to describe it, and use those quotes (with a few photos) to highlight this trend.
  • Beyonce Dropped a Bomb: And so did Kanye. Super Bowl weekend pretty much belonged to Beyonce (with a surprise music video release and a half time performance) and the weeks after that we’re all Kanye West’s, as he released his newest clothing collection and a new album of his own. Both, though, only released their music on TIDAL, a streaming service that’s been less popular than Spotify and Apple Music. How many of your students went the extra lengths to get the goods? Report on it in your retrospective.

All of these ideas are listed here to help you think about how you can combine your students’ outside-of-school interests with your school’s popular inside-these-walls events for one, cool yearbook year in review spread that actually features your students. Remember: the goal of a retrospective isn’t too replace your book’s mission of documenting the year. Its goal is to help with that mission, and give you room to explore all those things that play a role in shaping your students’ years.

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