A Year(book) of ‘Firsts’
While a ‘summer camp’ typically entails singing, staying up late, and partaking in games and activities with fellow campers, the Publications students that went to Gettysburg Yearbook Experience this July saw a very different interpretation of the phrase. Between graphic design seminars and classes on concept and coverage, both the students and the advisors from Downingtown East were introduced to several new features to implement in the upcoming 2012-2013 edition of The Prowl. Seven students, along with this year’s Publications teachers, Mr. McGraw and Mr. Scheuer, spent four days on the campus of Gettysburg College in order to learn how to improve East’s yearbook.
Sam Hilty, a managing editor for the yearbook, said: “This isn’t a fool-around camp. It’s hard work. And, although you get absolutely no sleep, you’re having fun at the same time because you know you’re doing something that pays off in the end.” Each of the students were placed in classes according to their position on the yearbook staff and were given classwork and homework assignments to benefit them upon their return to school. Lindsay Alshefski said, “Students that went in previous years said it was very bland, but I found it interesting and very helpful. You just have to be ready to work hard and actually care about your yearbook!”
The classes ranged from photography to journalistic writing to learning a program called eDesign, all of which were dispersed throughout the day. They also attended seminars for the entire group. It was during these large assemblies that students were able to touch base with others from their school and discuss plans for their theme group meetings. Sam said, “We were given two hours a night for three nights to complete basically a mini yearbook, so everyone was creating something for the packet in their free time.”
The ‘mini yearbook’, or theme packet, as it was referred to at GYE, involved designing a sample layout of certain pages throughout the book; the students worked on the table of contents, the dividers, the opening signatures pages, etc. They were also required to come up with ideas for stories and photos that corresponded with the theme for the upcoming yearbook. “It helped tremendously because, in my concept and coverage class, we acquired so many new ideas for copy, and the copy was one of our priorities we planned on improving in this upcoming yearbook,” said Caroline Hall, a managing editor. “Then, in theme group, we were able to express to our other editors what we hoped for in the next yearbook easily.”
Along with designing pages and brainstorming copy ideas, the students had the opportunity to collaborate with Mr. McGraw and Mr. Scheuer to produce the cover design for the upcoming book. They met with a cover artist to create a digital copy of the cover, implementing the book’s color scheme and theme. “I am mostly looking forward to seeing the cover published. It’s different, but awesome, so I know everyone will love it. Last year, I think everyone either loved or hated the book; this book is a definite ‘love-it’ kind of book,” said Sam.
The experience for East’s students at GYE heavily impacted their plans and expectations for the 2012-2013 edition of The Prowl. Lindsay said, “Well… what isn’t new? We are taking a whole new stance at the book and trying to make it more like a magazine instead of a cut-and-paste look. We are trying to involve more interesting alternative copy with many different polls, surveys, and other ideas instead of a paragraph of a random person on each page.” Caroline described the changes: “More human interest stories, better photography, full bleed photos, and less cookie cutter layouts.” The girls agreed that the new book will be like no other book DEHS has ever produced. Sam added, “We also learned how to use ‘mods’, which are alternative copy in the yearbook such as polls and graphs. Mr. McGraw’s teacher let us take a peek at some amazing pages from award-winning yearbooks and they blew our minds. We fed off of other school’s ideas to use in our book and help improve it.”
After an inspiring week of classes, lectures, and collaboration, the entire Publications team is ready for a revolution in terms of the yearbook. The majority of the editorial staff is composed of seniors who are ready to make their final yearbook the best one thus far. With new teachers and ideas, this summer has given them a chance to brainstorm to what will be a year full of ‘firsts’ for The Prowl. Lindsay said, “Although we’ll miss Mr. Orr so much, I feel like this gives us new opportunities. I’m very interested to see where these opportunities may take us.”