Does your yearbook look the same as mom and dad's did when they were in high school?
In some ways, yeah, it does.
But, don't sweat it, modern technology is giving today's teens a lot more variety and room for creativity. And, if you are willing to shell out about 50 bucks for one, you may find a unique expression of your own school.
John Fowley, a yearbook representative of Herff Jones, travels all over northeastern Ohio helping 29 high school staffs put their yearbooks together. Ken Brayer of Canfield retired last year after more than 20 years of helping students put together yearbooks. He first worked a company named Walsworth and later joined up with Jostens.
Despite sometimes wanting to make their own mark on the world, "Young people are traditional," Fowley reports.
Trends in yearbooks will last at least four years, because young people want to carry on what their peers have done.
But, teens are individuals, and their access to technology is giving them a lot more room to express themselves.
While 20 years ago, students were cutting and pasting paper layouts together for their yearbooks, almost every school today has desktop publishing programs such as Adobe's Pagemaker.
Staffs now have access to many different fonts, or styles of text, Brayer says. Before technology arrived, staffs could choose from two fonts.
Digital cameras with loads of memory let students take more pictures.
"The digital camera has brought back a greater interest in photography with the kids," Fowley says.
All these new tools gives teens a greater
"They have all the technology they need to equal the professional presentation," Fowley says. A yearbook staff guided by a very creative adviser really can .
And while your parents' yearbooks may have only a couple of pages of color, your yearbook can afford more. Color pages cost the same dollar amount, but with inflation factored in, today's schools can afford much more.
Brayer says the nationwide trend now is yearbooks totally in color.
Why so much?
About half of American students buy yearbooks, Fowley says. Some don't want one, others simply can't afford it.
Prices range between $35 and $50 depending on the school, according to Brayer.
Both representatives noted that most school districts do not provide any funds for yearbook. So, students at almost every school hit the streets to sell advertisements to local businesses, clubs and parents. They may also sell candy or magazines to raise money.
Yearbook company representatives guide students through what they want in their books balanced by what they can afford. Early in the planning stages, they must decide how many pages, how much color and what sort of cover they want and can pay for.
Cost also depends on how many books can be sold at a particular high school.
More affluent schools sell more books, as do larger schools. Smaller schools, however, sell a larger percentage of books. For example, about 50 percent of Boardman High School students buy books, but a larger percentage at the smaller Poland High School buy them.
What's inside
While some things like senior portraits and faculty sections are the same as they were in mom and dad's day, today's teens are starting some new traditons.
Schools have so many more clubs and activities so yearbooks usually dedicate more space to those, Brayer says. With more schools requiring community services, yearbooks may include pictures of someone working at a nursing home or local theater.
Informational graphics about polls with such information about the best places to eat, favorite music and favorite television shows are popular, say both Brayer and Fowley.
Some schools do quote style books with favorite slogans and sayings from sources such as teachers or fellow students.
With color easier to get, some schools are including full-color current events sections.
"The last few years, it's been catching on," Brayer says. It adds a few cents to the cost of each book, but he always encouraged yearbook staffs to include them. He told them, "You'll want it in five years."
A section in the 2002 Ursuline High School yearbook included a double-page spread on Sept. 11, as well as many other snippets including pictures of professional tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and their famous finals match in the U.S. Open., and an 'NSYNC bobblehead.
These are usually put together professional, rather than by the students, Brayer said.
The extras
Yearbooks on video or compact discs probably won't replace books, though they do make a wonderful addition to the books, Fowley says.
The video yearbook is dead, he says. They just weren't well received by students. CDs are fairing about the same.
Students usually buy them as a supplement to the actual book.
There also are problems with getting rights to use popular songs and images in these mediums, he says.
Younger set
Many junior high and elementary schools have soft-covered memory books, according to Fowley. They are usually produced by parents, rather than students, though there are some exceptions.
Usually, the books just contain portraits.

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