Yearbook staff works hard to preserve memories

April 2, 2019 — by Justin Guo and Siva Sambasivam

Talisman is created through hours of labor and meeting deadlines.

Starting in the early 1960s, SHS students have looked forward to receiving a volume of the Talisman yearbook in May.

Students typically flip through the pages, trying to find any stories or photo about themselves or their friends, before getting the final pages of the book signed by their teachers and friends.

But what students generally fail to notice is the amount of time put into the creation of the yearbook. One class period, 35 students, 80 classes a year — amounting to a total of over 8,000 hours poured into the book that will preserve high school memories for decades.

The Falcon took an in-depth look into the staff hierarchy of the yearbook staff as well as the production of the Talisman.


Production cycles set the framework for the class

The production of the Talisman is split into six “cycles,” based on a planned timeline. For example, the early cycles in the year cover events that happen in August and September, such as Back to School Night and fall sports, while later cycles cover spring sports and events like the Benefit Fashion Show.

For each of these topics, a “spread” is assigned to a partnership of two reporters and a photographer. A spread is simply the page, or pages, in the yearbook.

After spreads are assigned by the editors-in-chief (the year: seniors Anisha Byri, Kitty Huang, Chloe Peng and Kimi Uenaka), the assigned photographer tries to take photos for the spread. The reporters lay out the pages in Adobe InDesign.

For most of the spreads, the editors create templates for reporters to follow. However, every partnership gets to work on at least one breakout spread — more freeform spreads that the reporters get to design themselves. Breakout spreads are usually reserved for special trends or events, while normal spreads about sports or routine events generally follow a traditional format to keep the yearbook’s structure consistent.

These breakout spreads allow reporters and layout artists to use their creative side, as the spreads don’t have to follow a certain template.

“At first, I found the breakout spreads really intimidating.” sophomore reporter Tabitha Hulme said. “But I really enjoyed being able to have complete freedom to create a spread that had no limitations.”

According to Huang, these spreads provide a lighter and more fun side for the yearbook. This year, for example, the Talisman will have feature spreads about the different ways students get to school, and “trend” spreads about fashion and memes, among others.

Occasionally, the Talisman will have half cycles between regular production periods. The primary purpose of these half cycles is to work on the less time-consuming parts of the yearbook such as senior ads in order to help the staff get work done but not feel swamped at the same time. In essence, half cycles are just smaller assignments that go along with the normal cycles.

Every three or four weeks, the reporters have a deadline to finish the spreads by the dreaded “dropdead” deadline day, similar to the newspaper’s “deadline night,” where every story and spread in the cycle must be signed off and ready to be sent to printing plant of Walsworth Publishing Co., located in Marceline, Mo.

Though dropdead is an important deadline, the yearbook’s plant deadline is much more important: It’s when the staff digitally submits their spreads to Walsworth (the publisher) and they get to see the the progress of their yearbook and what they need to do next.

The yearbook staff has a bit more leeway than newspaper in the sense that they can go back and revise their submitted layouts if necessary at a proofing stage, while the newspaper staff, after having printed and distributed their issue, can only look for any potential mistakes in the issue, learn from them and try improve on the next issue.

However, there are still consequences set in place to prevent the yearbook staff from slacking off. Primarily, students will lose points on their grade if their spreads are late. The EICs will also struggle to put together a final product if spreads are late or unfinished. And if the staff repeatedly fails to meet their respective deadlines, then yearbook adviser Mike Tyler may decide to cut pages from the final yearbook.


Leadership structure depends on seniors

The yearbook’s leadership structure is similar to that of its newspaper counterpart.

At the bottom of the pyramid are the sophomores and juniors who are first-year yearbook students. Affectionately called “yearbies,” their main tasks are working on the spreads and stories that they are assigned to.

Above them are the copy and layout editors, who edit stories and spreads respectively before they get to the EIC’s.

The EICs are basically responsible for the production of the entire yearbook, reviewing and editing every story and layout that will go in the final product. They have the most control and the most responsibility.

This year, the staff was split into two teams, with each team being led by two EICs.  

For the EICs, their work begins before the school year. After EICs are picked by Tyler the previous spring, the editors begin planning the book and also attend a summer yearbook camp — this year’s one was at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

After the EICs came back from the camp, they had a solid plan and vision for the book and began planning specific spreads.

As an adviser who’s now in his 22nd year at the school, Tyler provides support and advice throughout the process. He reads and signs off on the final spreads and stories, giving suggestions for what reporters should do to make the yearbook better.

Also, the editors receive help from their yearbook representative, Nicole Gravlin. With her background in design, Gravlin played a major contributing role in helping the EICs figure out the final design for the yearbook, and she has also resolved a lot of questions or concerns that the EICs had along the way. But in the end, it is still a student-run production with the EICs having the final say on every decision made throughout the year.

“I think it’s great that it’s a student-run class, but it can be challenging at times,” Hulme said. “The yearbies really depend on the upperclassmen to teach them the certain rules and guidelines they need to follow. And because there are so many stages to get our ideas and spreads signed off, we have to have a connection with the upperclassmen.”