With the insistence of people like Sen. Chad Barefoot to send “data” to the General Assembly concerning how money is spent and how resources are being used, why don’t schools also send them a copy of their yearbooks.
Around this time in many schools, yearbooks are being distributed to students and others who early in the school year purchased what some might call a keepsake.
But yearbooks are more than that. They are living artifacts that capture the very pulse of a school that no test or state report card could ever hope to measure.
My school’s annual this year is over 500 pages of vibrant, colorful, living memories put together by a talented group of students who came up with a vision, a theme, a business plan and met multiple deadlines to create a product that will never lose its value.
In fact, it will increase.
That business plan means the selling of ads and determining price points because like so many other activities within public education, in order to have them, you must pay for them yourselves. And that’s exactly what these students do; they create something that will always be cherished. They will work during lunches, before and after school, and on weekends. They will attend every event possible to ensure that it is chronicled. It’s simply data in its purest form.
In a school of over 2000 students, it can be a rather herculean task to make sure that all students, faculty, and staff somehow get represented in the yearbook, but to think that it is just about printing a copy of everyone’s school picture is shortsighted.
Yearbooks capture the culture and spirit of a school.
Snapshots, clubs, activities, extracurricular, sports, profiles, dances, homecoming, trends, facts – whatever defined that year bundled together in one volume.
When I graduated high school over half my life ago, I was on the yearbook staff. Instead of digital cameras and computer programs, we had rubber cement and layout pages with typeset. Pictures were developed and then selected and cropped with scissors.
I still look at my old yearbooks at least once a year when I go back to the house I grew up in. Memories flood back. Games replayed. Conversations revisited. Friends reacquainted. A glimpse of actual hair on my head. And I realize that the kids now are wearing what was in style back then.
As students finish the year with exams and state tests that will eventually correspond to numbers and rankings in the eyes of many a lawmaker, I am tempted to send a copy of this year’s yearbook to Raleigh.
You realize there are those blank pages in the front and the back for the notes and the “signings.” What if every student wrote something for the General Assembly in their copy of the yearbook?
Then I would ask them to find a way to measure the effectiveness of the school according to what is presented in the pages.
They would not be able to.
Some things just can’t be measured.