The students who are part of the yearbook class at Seaside High School take on the responsibility of not only carefully documenting each school year but also learning the ins and outs of running a viable enterprise.
“This is a class where, when they graduate, they’ll have actual marketable skills they’ve developed over four years,” said Amy Rider, who instructs the class for the high school’s yearbook, Seabreeze.
Each school year, the yearbook class runs all three terms. Not all students involved in the program, however, can attend the whole year. Some will take the class only one or two trimesters but still help out in between with covering events, interviewing fellow students, and other pertinent tasks.
“Everyone has their different path,” junior Kiara Breckenridge, the current editor-in-chief, said.
During the first term, about 20 students were enrolled in the class, which is a significant increase from Breckenridge’s freshman year, when the yearbook was put together by a group of about six dedicated students.
Leading the way
Rider appoints the editor in chief each year based on seniority, in addition to leadership skills, maturity and reliability. This year, that was Breckenridge.
In eighth grade, when looking at high school classes, she was intrigued by yearbook and the opportunity to write copy, learn page design, and do photography. She started her freshman year and worked her way through the ranks, taking on the roles of photo editor and sports editor along the way.
Now, as editor in chief, it’s her job to assign tasks and guide the project from start to finish.
“I’m a Type A kind of person, so I like being able to teach new students,” she said.
Although Rider and Breckenridge would not reveal the theme of this year’s Seabreeze — which is traditionally concealed until the yearbooks are distributed on the last day of school — they said they are changing it up a bit. Instead of the traditional format, which divides the yearbook into sections based on categories, such as sports, classes, and dances, they are laying it out chronologically. They hope this will create more of a narrative feel.
“We’re trying to tell our story,” Breckenridge said, attributing the idea to Rider. “She wanted to try something new.”
How to run a business
To jumpstart the yearbook design process, Rider takes a few students to a camp in Salem each summer. There they glean ideas and inspirations for design styles, formats, color schemes, and more.
Once the year starts, the workload for students ebbs and flows. Breckenridge said they are especially busy from September to November, covering sports and activities and getting the school pictures organized. They also work on collecting ad sales to help finance the program.
According to Rider, the yearbook program functions similar to a business. As a standalone program, they don’t get funding from the school and are required to manage their own budget. Since they sell the yearbooks below cost to students, they rely on ad sales to sustain the enterprise. Fortunately, Breckenridge said, they find ample community support year after year.
“We sell really well in ads, because there are a lot of businesses that support (the school),” she said.
While the students bear a big responsibility striving to keep the program financially sound, it teaches them important life skills in return, Rider said. They learn how to make connections with local businesses, communicate professionally with potential sponsors, and interview strangers, along with creative skills, like photography, copywriting, and page design using computer software.
“It’s really fun,” Breckenridge said.