What It Takes to Create Our Yearbook

Addie Wittkamper and Megan Callahan

Every high school student looks forward to receiving their own yearbook to wrap up the school year. Many people keep their yearbooks for the rest of their lives and can relive some of their high school experience by flipping through the colorful pages. As a student, it is difficult to understand the amount of time and effort put in by students and teachers to get the book finished in time to be printed. After talking to the yearbook editors, students, and teacher in charge, we would like to showcase how much energy goes into making the yearbook perfect. 

At Ipswich High School, we have a yearbook class, which runs for the first semester and has fifteen to twenty students in it. The teacher, Mr. Sidmore, teaches the class three days each week and encourages every student to take some time after school to photograph different sports events and other activities. 

Since the group of students has a pretty significant role in creating the yearbook, we wanted to get some insight from one of them and get to know her thoughts on the class. We talked to Ellie O’Donnell who thought “yearbook class was an interesting experience. I liked that I got to see the “behind the scenes” of the yearbook, but I felt like it was hard to enjoy the tasks since they seemed to pile up pretty quickly,” she said. Outside of school, Ellie “put in several hours of [her] time for photography and writing in yearbook. Most of the time-consuming tasks had to be done outside of class,” she said. 

By talking with Ellie, we were able to get a better idea of what goes on during a normal day. Students would start the class by logging on to the yearbook website, and spend the class tagging photos, helping others, writing, uploading photos, or designing their pages. While there are many aspects of the class, “the hardest part was making time to take pictures and write features for all her pages,” Ellie said. 

This year, there are two editors for the yearbook, Mei Bradford and Casey Nordberg. We took some time to get an insight into Mei’s responsibilities as co-editor of the yearbook. “I am the editor. I make the templates, spreads, and plan out the entire book. I also edit all features, layouts, pictures, make sure there are no repeats, and make sure everyone is included,” she said. Unlike other years, Mei helped create every layout in the yearbook from scratch. It was a very time consuming, yet satisfying project. 

It’s clear it takes a lot of work to create the yearbook. There are so many people Mei has to please. “I am under a lot of pressure. There are deadline demands from Mr. Sidmore, pressure on the limited number of pages from the business editor, and the most pressure is from all the students in the school to make a good yearbook for everyone,” she said. Mei tries extremely hard to please everyone, including herself. 

Because the yearbook is demanding, one has to be very passionate to do a job like Mei’s. She has a few reasons why she enjoys the job so much. “I am a very project-based person so a full year project is fun. I love graphic design and using my organization skills,” as well. The yearbook keeps Mei busy and productive. 

In order to start this massive project, Mei starts the layout in mid-summer with Casey. They worked on and off throughout the rest of the summer. Once school started, their workload picked up. They immediately  had to organize superlatives, fall sports, and all the other important senior things inside the yearbook. Typically, out of school Mei spends 3-10 hours on the yearbook. Mei values everything she puts into the yearbook and always completes her tasks with her best foot forward. 

The teacher in charge of the yearbook is Mr. Sidmore. He has many roles, “I oversee the fundraising and the creation of all the page layouts. I have to proofread all of the writing that goes into the yearbook. I have to manage the editors, the timetable, and meet our deadlines. Every page has to have some photography, some writing, and some graphic design, and balancing those three components can be difficult in a limited amount of time, he said.” Because Mr. Sidmore has so many jobs, he relies on the help from his students and editors. 

The time spent on the yearbook by Mr. Sidmore is incredible. It obviously depends on the week, but by the number of tasks he is in charge of, it’s evident Mr. Sidmore has to spend a good amount of time on the yearbook. He explains, “It’s hard to calculate because it comes in spurts. Before a deadline, I’ll spend an entire weekend of free time looking over pages, and then there are times when I don’t have to look at the yearbook for three or four days in a row. 

There are many ups and downs when creating the yearbook. The hardest thing for Mr. Sidmore to do is to motivate kids in the yearbook class to do their individual job and to communicate how much pressure he feels to meet deadlines because it costs money when you miss them. He continues, “meeting our budget every year has been more and more of a challenge.”

Though there are difficulties in the making of the yearbook, it’s something Mr. Sidmore loves to do. “I really like the graphic design and photography part of it. I like taking pictures and I try to give kids the opportunity to take pictures more, but when I need to, I step in and I enjoy the challenge of trying to take a good image and balance all the different aspects of good photography,” he said. Mr. Sidmore does an absorbent amount of work for the yearbook. His goal is to improve the yearbook each year and make it as great as it can be. 

After a full year of work filled with rough drafts and more edits than you can count, Mr. Sidmore finally puts the final touch on what will become the graduating class’s last memories of senior year and sends the final pages to be printed. As you can now see, many hours and lots of effort goes into every page of the yearbook. It is important that the final product is one that every member of the yearbook staff is proud of, and one that every student is excited to take home.