Monday, March – 23, 2015 – Your High School Yearbook
Let’s start the week in the Way Back Machine. I seem to be in the Way Back Machine a lot lately. Must be caused by Face Book. But today we are going to talk about high school yearbooks, sometimes called annuals – not to be confused with the flowers that grow every year.
Do you still have your high school yearbook(s)? Those of us who graduated from MHS in the 50’s and 60’s have all endure the scorn and laughter of showing our children and great children (grand children and great nieces/nephews) and our friends our high school yearbooks. “That’s the WHOLE school in that little skinny book?” as they ROLF.
Remember those Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten posters and books from the 1980’s? I could do something similar called Everything I Know About Being a Bureaucrat, I Learned in High School Yearbook. Everyone reading this knows or should know that the best yearbook published by Taylor Publishing Company for Magnolia ISD, was mine – the 1967 Bulldog yearbook where I served as editor-in-chief. A very close second is the 1966 Bulldog when I believe, the “Vivid and careless as the wind itself” Ms. Jenny Lee W was editor-in-chief and I was assistant business manager. My sister’s Magnolia yearbook, when she was editor-in-chief is a very, very distant third for best Magnolia yearbooks ever.
I know that Mr. Howard Davenport was the photographer for the 1967 Bulldog, and I am pretty sure he was the photographer for the 1966 one. I think the photographer for my sister’s yearbook was Matthew Brady.
Howard Davenport was a Magnolia Renaissance Man. He could do anything and was interested in most everything. Mr. Davenport was the only one who could operate such a complex professional camera outfit. And you knew NEVER to touch Mr. Davenport’s camera. He also taught us to develop film and print pictures. One will have to Google to explain dark room processes in film development.
I still have flashbacks of being chewed out by Mr. Davenport for leaving his darkroom in a mess. Even though it wasn’t my doings, I was the editor, so I got chewed out. Of course, being chewed out by Mr. Davenport was like being chewed out by my father. Neither raised their voice and you felt horrible because you had disappointed them more than anything else.
I feel pretty sure that Howard Davenport had something to do with that dark room and those opportunities even being there. Besides Pearl Lee, who else in Magnolia, Texas knew how to do that level of photography? It was professional quality using professional equipment.
Let me offer some comparisons to being a bureaucrat and the tasks and skills involved in being a yearbook editor. As state bureaucrat for 25+ years many of my responsibilities included project management for required legislative reports regarding the public schools and their use of technologies. When the assignments would be handed down, I would go into “yearbook mode” because the process is the same. The skills needed for yearbook are also needed for life. Here are some examples, with some lessons learned from reports and documents written.
Planning – Like a yearbook every page had to be planned with division pages, graphics and layouts long before the first photographs were taken or first words were written.
Lesson Learned: Do not submit the last page until the last submission. I submitted the last page of my yearbook with the next to the last submission. As it turned out I could have added 10 more pages.
Deadlines – There are firm deadlines in every project.
Lesson Learned: You miss it and you’re screwed.
Budget – You must work with money and you must work within these set parameters.
Lesson Learned: You do not get to set the amount of money or set the parameters.
Political – Does not matter if it was a small town yearbook, there were politics involved. I do not recall any significant interaction with the assistant editor. This was due to the fact that I was scared her mother would beat me up, then beat up my mother and then beat up Mrs. Brown, yearbook sponsor, possibly Mr. L. the HS Principal, and maybe Mr. Tergerson the superintendent. Today’s these are called “educational lawsuits.”
Lesson Learned: You can’t please everybody and you have to compromise.
Communication – You have to interact with people who are more powerful than you and you have to communicate things you wish you did not have to. For example from yearbook – “Mr. L., we have to have Mr. Davenport take the FFA picture again because Michael S. is “making an ugly sign” with his hands.” Really, did you think I would have gone into JL’s office and say “Michael S. is shooting the bird?” He and I both would have fainted if I had said that.
Example from The Form Factory – “Dr. M., our division’s report is going to be late and we need an extension. I understand it is The Graphics Department’s fault, but our responsibility. What I really wanted to say “Betty W. is a freaking idiot!”
Lesson Learned: Proof reading and photography examination skills are critical – You cannot write reports, letters, memos or any other document in the Texas PUBLIC school system without them. Spell check does not pick up on the word when the “L” is left out of the word public.
Process –It is a process that goes through defined stages. It will start with enthusiasm, stall, forcing a regroup, progress and move forward, then fall completely apart causing you to regroup again and then end somehow, hopefully the way you planned it to, on time and under budget.
Lesson Learned: If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you strong.
Powerful – being an editor of a yearbook is the most powerful position in high school. We, the editors, knowingly control your high school career to be displayed for future generations. Not all of those “bad” pictures used in the 1967 MHS yearbook are accidental. How about yours Ms.Jenny Lee W?
Lesson Learned: You must learn and develop all those other skills to achieve the needed confidence to complete an undertaking such as a yearbook or any other project in your life. Use your power and skills wisely.
In conclusion, I hope Jenny Lee W. and everybody else has made it this far. There were two photographs in her 1966 yearbook that influenced me throughout my life. I always said if I ever see JLW again, I would complement her on them.
They are the two photographs of the yearbook staff at the end of the yearbook. On the LP (left page) for you non-yearbook speaking) is the BEFORE picture. The staff is perfectly posed and is smiling with eagerness and confidence. The caption reads “It’s only the beginning.”
The AFTER picture on the RP of the book is the yearbook staff in a different pose. The caption on this picture reads “Where’s Mrs. Brown?” The yearbook sponsor is not pictured and the staff looks as though we are angry, hitting each other with various objects, screaming, crying, and yelling at each other and more. This is the best example I have ever seen of what a process looks like.
Ms. Jenny Lee W, please know that I used these two pictures for years to start and lead new projects I would show my team the two photographs say “OK, team, this is what the “BEFORE the process starts” picture looks like. As we move along, there will be stages it will look like this AFTER picture and it may look like this at conclusion, but you must trust the process. Now let’s get busy.”
Oh yes, I do give you full credit, Ms. W.
So, if everything I know about bureaucracy I learned from yearbook, and if everything I know about yearbook, I learned from Ms. W, then the only reason my yearbook could have possibly been better than hers was if she taught me how to make it so.
OK – it’s a tie. The best two yearbooks ever to come out of MHS – the 1966 and 1967 Bulldogs. Looking for your high school yearbook now, aren’t you?