Late in my Junior year of high school, I got involved with our yearbook staff. No idea now why I decided to do that or why I was late to the game, but I remember spending a lot of time that spring and then during the summer after eleventh grade in the journalism office – a small computer lab in the English Wing of Yankton High School that housed the technology and gear used by the yearbook staff to produce the annual Arikara volume and the journalism students to produce the school newspaper, the Woksape. A different student had been spearheading the yearbook during that school year but somehow she ghosted and I found myself, along with two friends, as the de facto Editors-in-Chief, suddenly responsible for completing and submitting the yearbook for that year. So, I did just that and ended up as the solo editor our Senior year.
I loved yearbook in part because it was a big project that was taken on by a small number of students which meant I had quite a bit of control in how it was laid out and looked. Although we could do quite a bit with computer programming in the tail-end of the 1990s, we still had to use red grease pencils to mark crop lines on photos and hope that we labeled them correctly with submission envelopes of each page, otherwise our final print version would be a mess. So much time was spent in that little computer lab as we worked on pages while listening to a sleeve of random CDs someone left behind and eating our favorite snacks, provided by our dear yearbook advisor, Mr. Fischer.
To look at Mr. Fischer one might first think “Santa” (fair) and to be around him, one might first think “curmudgeon” because of his whole aesthetic, but he was really a total softie and treated us well as a staff (see above about keeping us in stock of our beloved Doritos and Twizlers). He had a super sharp sense of humor and a great smile behind that big old beard. And we were always just early enough to beat him to the staff parking lot during the summer that we could practice our backwards parking skills while we waited (I got intensely good at this during that time). For the most part he left us to our own devices with the yearbook but I remember enjoying his advise and advisorship as I rounded out my Senior year and high school career and I was honored to have him at my graduation party in May, 2000.
Flash forward 20+ years and I found those same yearbook scramble skills suddenly called back into action via my role with own kids’ elementary school which was in need of its own new editor after the previous mom-in-charge’s kids aged out of Longfellow. Taking on the actual job wasn’t a scramble (I volunteered for it years in advance, actually, but COVID Life got in the way of me learning directly from her during her last two years of service); it was the navigating and learning of the ropes on the fly that became a mad dash to the finish in late winter/early spring 2022.
Did I need her help and ask her dozens upon dozens of questions my first year to figure it out? Sure did! Did I procrastinate and then freak out about a month-and-a-half before the pages deadline? Totally! But did the job get done and turn out great? Yep, because apparently yearbook editing is like riding a bicycle in that you can pick it up, dust it off, and still compile a lovely little collection of photos and memories for students to look back on for years to come, even as a small little staff of one. Except now it’s gluten-free Oreos and pistachios getting me through the long hours of collecting photos and designing layouts which are, thank heavens, allll online now and much less clunky to navigate than back in the day!