Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Don't Worry, Be Happy

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?

28 comments:

quilly said...

I wasn't allowed to buy my high school year book. Dad thought it was a waste of good money. I still wish I had them.

Everyday Kathy said...

I was my yearbook editor... At the time (1981) we could only have 12 pages of color because it was so expensive to print and those pages had to be done by October... I remember lamenting that we didn't even know what was "important" yet!

Congratulations on number 14! That is impressive!!!

Oh, and I was voted Class Clown... would have preferred "Best to Take Home to Parents!"

Jesson Balaoing said...

I like your blog,... nice post keep blogging...

ScoMan said...

Congrats on making it to 14 year books.

In my high school year book, I was voted "Most likely to be so influenced by American culture that I would write a bout having a high school year book"

Okay, I stole that from a comedian. But yeah, we don't do year books here.

Amy said...

"It just seems like, you agree to have a certain personality or something. For no reason. Just to make things easier for everyone. But when you think about it, I mean, how do you know it's even you? And, I mean, this whole thing with yearbook -- it's like, everybody's in this big hurry to make this book, to supposedly remember what happened. Because if you made a book of what really happened, it'd be a really upsetting book." - Angela, My So-Called Life

Cheryl said...

Congrats on completing 14 of these bad boys! When I hit FB last year, old HS friends started to get in touch. This is the only time I've looked at the thing since about a year after I graduated.

At the time it seemed so important to have it. Why I still carry it around from place to place is a mystery. It marks a time in my life that was filled with great pain. When I am old and grayer I'm hopeful dimentia will soften the memories.

cat said...

Congratulations - another one in the bag.

Jeanie said...

I think those yearbooks are one of the things we all keep if we have them....I know that at 63 I still have mine, and I didn't even like high school very much. I love that quote.

yonca said...

Congrats on making it to 14 year books Melissa!

Queenie Jeannie said...

I think somebunny is waxing poetic because it's the end of another school year....

Bittersweet, isn't it??

colleen said...

The photo looks like one of my son's collages.

This would be right up my alley. For years I worked with students of our town's independent school to put out a monthly newsletter and a yearly calendar.

I love yearbooks and still have mine, of course.

Susie said...

14! What a huge accomplishment!

Debbie said...

I was on the yearbook staff throughout jr and high school and loved it! My daughter did it for one year in high school and all they did was sell ads. Such a pity.

Sarah said...

I lost all my year books from moving too many times and too far. I wish I still have them. They are part of our lives. I also wish schools will scan them and store them online. How great will that be for me!

dkzody said...

I love yearbooks, have all 4 of mine. I loved being on yearbook and newspaper staff when I was in high school which was over 40 years ago. But now, in this inner city school, and after doing 9 yearbooks, I am not enamored with doing a yearbook. I'm glad to know there are still schools out there where kids love to produce a book and buy the book.

The Blonde Duck said...

Our yearbook staff (I was on the paper, so I could sneer at them), was ridiculous. They wouldn't print until after prom and graduation, so we got our yearbooks in June...some got them in the August of the next school year!

Andrea said...

Oh memories of my "annual". We didn't ever get ours until after the school year was over. It was so exciting to finally get it! We just bought one for my 6 year old! I never thought we'd spend so much money for a first grade yearbook, but my husband is a sucker. I love to look at them though, even if I don't know too many of the people!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I love my high school yearbooks - not only their content but the signatures are such a great reminder of the happiest of teenage times.

Kristin said...

I think your students are very lucky to have someone that clearly cares a LOT about what they put out!

Tara R. said...

I was voted Most Unique my senior year. I really should dig out my old yearbooks.

Congrats another successful publication!

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

I love that Twain quote. It isjust perfect.

blueviolet said...

Your yearbooks actually make it out by the end of the school year? I'm so impressed. I always hated how my kids didn't get theirs until the following fall.

Everyday Song said...

Fun to read this. I'm planning a 15 year reunion and just pulled out all four year books from some ancient tub in the basement to bring and set out. Back in the day when muscle t-shirts were in and bangs stood on their own. I wonder now, though, what benefit the people who paid for yearbook ads ever got out of the enterprise.

"Lillagul" said...

Many yearbooks on your picture !
Thank´s for stopping by my blog :)

Tracy P. said...

This is a great post, Melissa. I love the part about the "Beautiful People" and "real" news, because after *ahem* 30 years and the advent of Facebook, I'm enjoying high school now more than I did the first time. By far.

MommieDaze said...

The year I was editor of our yearbook we did a 2 page spread on the new class at our for high school for girls that were pregnant or had kids. This was in 1992, and in our little town it was considered very controversial at the time. A lot of people thought we were glorifying teen pregnancy. But the class was big news that year, and those girls were a part of our school too. So we published it anyway. At the time we just sort of did it to stick it to the adults. Now looking back it's a nice contrast to all the other fluff in the book.

Tracie said...

Our high school yearbook was so boring we didn't even get to do the "Best Of" things. (I wasn't on the yearbook staff just the newspaper staff.)

Anyway, I was voted "Best Sense Of Humor" or some kind of nonsense like that. In Jr. High I was "Most All American" and "Most Likely To Succeed". Must have been some regression there.

MrsThull said...

I have moved 7 times in the 7 years since I graduated and know precisely where there are right now. I haven't looked at it in a long time but I do know I will always keep it.

I wonder if I will ever be a part of creating a year book??? I am studying to be an English Teacher so it may be a possibility. I suspect I will at least have the pleasure to sign a few more!

Check out my new blog at http://mrsthu11.blogspot.com/

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin