How it Works: Yearbook

The staff of The Bolt, Liberty High’s yearbook, works all year long to document important events and photos for students to look back on for years to come. 

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Aubrey Dallner

This preview board sits in the academic commons, it shows a couple of different spreads that will be featured in the upcoming 2019-2020 yearbook.

A high school yearbook is a labor of love, full of memories and familiar faces that commemorate important moments in the high school experience. Despite the hype surrounding the books themselves, the staff can sometimes take a back seat when it comes to receiving recognition. 

Ashley Cunningham, the advisor for all of the school’s different journalism staffs, has watched her yearbook program flourish since Liberty first opened. Cunningham’s job is unique compared to other teaching positions at Liberty. Her role as advisor means that she is not directly involved in the process of creating the book, but she is available to lend her thoughts and help whenever needed. 

“It’s entirely the student[s’] brain. They decide the theme of the book, the direction of the book, and the design and overall look of the book,” said Cunningham. “I’m here essentially only to help troubleshoot areas of concern or problems or lack thereof. It’s really an entirely student-based and student-run publication.”

“It’s entirely the student[s’] brain. They decide the theme of the book, the direction of the book, and the design and overall look of the book.”

— Ashley Cunningham

Yearbook runs almost like a club, the difference being that it’s listed as a class and is given a full class period for staff members to work together. Staff members run beneath an Editor in Chief (EIC) and the managing editor, who make sure everything operates smoothly and deadlines are met on time. Most deadlines are between 4 to 5 weeks.

This year’s EIC is Corissa Gavin, senior. Gavin, who has been on the yearbook staff ever since Liberty opened, is in charge of finalizing the design elements of the yearbook. This means checking over the fonts, theme, and any other details that might have been missed. She has the final say in how the book looks. She also edits the work of her staff members and offers advice when necessary. 

“Usually we just send everyone on their way to work on their spreads. We have a 21-day deadline checklist [that] we follow [which] allows the staff to work on their spreads and have time at the end to edit them,” said Gavin.

The yearbook is different from the newspaper in that the yearbook is design and photo-oriented, whereas picture use and design are minimal on the online paper. Maison Allen, senior and head photographer on the yearbook staff, takes photos at school events and adds them to an image library that is accessible to anyone on staff. 

“The yearbook photos are all student-oriented and they have to be really good quality, [whereas] newspaper has more freedom in what pictures are used and they don’t [necessarily] have to contain students from Liberty,” said Allen.

One difficulty of running any high school publication is ensuring that every student in the school is represented equally. High school can sometimes feel like a popularity contest, but the goal of a yearbook is to showcase the lives of every student fairly. A coverage rate shows staff members how many students have been covered in comparison to the number of students who have not. 

Aubrey Dallner
The Bolt’s first and second volumes from the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years.

The first volume of The Bolt had a coverage rate of 62.0% and the second year it was up to 66.0%. As of late January, the yearbook staff has gotten through about 2 and a half deadlines worth of content and reached a current coverage rate of 20.0%. There are typically about 8 or 9 deadlines each year, which means that the staff is more than likely to hit their coverage goal of 67.0% or more. Liberty’s consistency with hitting these goals is especially impressive considering the growth of the student body over the last couple of years. The 2019-2020 school year is the first year that Liberty has been at full capacity, and yet staff is still right on track. 

The goal of The Bolt is to feature every student in the book at least 3 times so that everyone can feel like they have a place in the yearbook, but some students are more difficult to cover than others, especially if they aren’t involved in a school club, sport, or other activity. 

“Anyone that’s not in the book 3 times [goes] on our priority list. Anyone who’s already in the book 3 times goes on what we call a no-fly list, meaning unless they’re in a group photo, we don’t put them in the book [again] until we get everyone else covered,” said Cunningham.

The hard work that staff members pour into the yearbook definitely shows, and students can catch a glimpse of what the yearbook will look like out in the main academic commons beneath the balcony. This preview showcases a few completed spreads that define the theme of the book as well as what kind of content we’ll be seeing in the final version. Although it can be hard to wait, hard work can’t be rushed!