A high school yearbook is an anachronism; a parody, really, of itself. I guess that's why I'm so drawn to the medium...as a chronicle of the school year just past, as a comment on social mores, as a waystation on the continuum of life.
I was not born to be a yearbook adviser. I'm professionally trained as a journalist, far too cynical to get all mushy about a phenomenon as shallow as a high school "annual," as we used to refer to them down Tejas way. But that very sentiment, in the end, is what has drawn me to the craft of completing our yearly compendium, year after year.
Pictured above, framed by the flotsam & jetsam of The Barney Cabinet in the Journalism Office at Our Humble High School, is this year's book. Entitled ExTENsions, it's elaborately designed to showcase all things 2009-2010...from the bomb threat & evacuation earlier this year, to Prom, which is destined to sprinkle us all with fairy dust this coming Friday.
Well, of course, we couldn't cover Prom in this year's book. That's the nature of the beast. We pretend to capture the entire school year, but the yearbook goes to press in mid-April. Otherwise, our cherubs wouldn't get their book before graduation. And that would be a crime.
I've just completed a feat I never thought I'd brag about. This year's book is my 14th. Starting in 1997, when as the school's Journalism Teacher I inherited this job, to this year, I've tried to guide my journalistas in assembling a book that not only helps to capture the memories, as it were, but that really will matter to many of them, years down the road.
And that's a difficult tight-rope to walk. We put up with Superlatives (Best to Take Home to Parents, Future Picasso, et al), the Beautiful People (I still maintain that "popularity" in high school is only the measure of a child's confidence. So many of them are at such a loss that they glom onto any peer who exudes the slightest hint of knowing what's going on), the Inside Jokes. But we try to print the "real" news, too, so that when these kids are old and grey & popularity doesn't matter anymore, they can still look back and say,
"Hey, I remember that!"
Mark Twain once uttered the words that pretty much sum up what yearbooks~and high school, the second time around~ mean to me.
"Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth."
He was a cynical old man, but made some pretty prophetic pronouncements. I wonder if he knew he was speaking to his inner-yearbook?