Monthly archives for September, 2017

HIYT: High-intensity yearbook training at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop

High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to get in shape, right? Borrowing the same idea of intense work and intense training, staffs across the country can get their yearbooks in shape at Balfour’s Intensity Workshop. This workshop focuses on three days of immersion in all things YEARBOOK. Yearbook advisers, editors and staff are welcome to attend the workshop, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 30 – Monday, Oct. 2 at the Balfour Yearbook Publishing Plant in Dallas, Texas.

Your classroom time features a lineup of award-winning advisers and Balfour experts who are in tune with industry trends and yearbook award standards. These fine folks will help you and your students polish & refine the plans for the 2018 yearbook. Intensity instructors include:

Samantha Jo Berry teaches at Bridgeland High School in Houston. She received the 2015 Pathfinder Award from the Texas Association of Journalism Educators and was recently named as one of 13 recipients of the Rising Star Award from the Journalism Education Association. Her students’ publications have received numerous awards from CSPA, ILPC and JEA.

Judi Coolidge retired from teaching after 35 years at Bay High School in Ohio and has worked as part of Balfour’s education and marketing team for the past eleven years. The books she advised won 28 All-Americans and Gold Medals, NSPA Pacemakers, CSPA Trendsetter and Gold Crowns and a Publisher’s Industry Award. Coolidge received NSPA’s Pioneer Award, CSPA’s Gold Key and JEA National Yearbook Adviser of the Year. She is in the Great Lakes Interscholastic Press and the Scholastic Journalism halls of fame and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar.

Annie Green is a Certified Journalism Educator and National Board teacher in the Pacific Northwest. She has been teaching 22 years in the Snohomish School District and is currently advising yearbook and online newspaper at Glacier Peak High School. Her students have earned national awards and strong critiques for their yearbooks. Green is excited to share innovative theme, coverage and design ideas to help staffs create their best book ever.

Kel Lemons fell in love with yearbook at 16. More than two decades later, she has her dream job as Balfour’s Key Account & Education Manager. Before joining Balfour, Kel was a newspaper and yearbook adviser for 12 years in Texas. Her publications at Connally High School and Rouse High School won numerous ILPC Stars, CSPA Crowns and NSPA Pacemakers. Kel’s love for design and photography was heavily influenced by her first job as a newspaper photographer at the Waco Tribune-Herald. When she’s not working, she’s usually curled up with a good book or the latest Entertainment Weekly. Kel’s only slightly addicted to thrift shopping, house renovations, Whataburger and Law & Order reruns.

Michael Pena is a high school photography teacher at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas. Pena helps high school students find a passion for photography and graphic design. As an instructor and public speaker, Pena takes on the role of counselor, mentor, and most importantly being a good role model for today’s youth. After all, he was voted most friendliest for his senior class.

Kristi Rathbun, CJE, advises The Black & Gold yearbook, The Rock student newspaper and rockmediaonline at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, CO. For over 20 years, she has helped journalists achieve state and national success in student media. Her students have earned All-Colorado Awards from Colorado Student Media Association, Crown and Gold Medalist recognition from CSPA, Pacemaker and All-American recognition from NSPA and a number of Best of Show honors at national and state conferences. Rathbun speaks at national and state conventions and workshops helping students and their advisers build solid programs in multiple media platforms. Rathbun currently serves as the CSMA Advocacy Coordinator and Colorado JEA State Director; she was selected as a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2014 and received a CSPA Gold Key in 2016.

Sarah Tricano has advised Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy’s Tigrium, a Silver Crown and Pacemaker finalist, K-12 yearbook for the past 7 years. She also teaches photography. She has taught sessions at national and state conventions, as well as workshops across the country. She also teaches advanced yearbook topics with a focus on refining design and finding inspiration in the world around us. Before becoming an adviser and teacher, Sarah worked as a design professional at multiple high-end interior design firms in New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University and master’s degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. degree in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is currently the president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association.

In addition to learning from nationally recognized trainers, networking with peers and refining your yearbook, attendees will be in Dallas during the annual State Fair of Texas, which celebrates all things TEXAN. You and your staff can choose to take in the sites, rides, live music and check out the world’s largest Texan, Big Tex. Enjoy deep-fried concoctions such as Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly, Deep Fried Peaches & Cream, Chicken Fried Bacon and much more.

Attendees will stay at the conveniently located DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas—Love Field, which is just across the street from Love Field and 10 minutes from downtown Dallas.

Balfour’s Intensity Workshop will rock your world and your staff’s world. The 3-day immersion in all-things-yearbook will help you and your staff create the yearbook of your dreams.

To find out more about Balfour’s Intensity Workshop and determine if it’s suited to your staff’s needs, contact your Balfour representative.

How to prep for school picture day to save time (and your sanity) around deadlines

School picture day is a rite of passage for students across the country. Page after page filled with smiling faces is what makes a yearbook so timeless. As the yearbook adviser or coordinator, doing a little planning before picture day could save you days—if not weeks—of work later in the year. Here are some tips to consider before, during and after school picture day to maximize your time and save your sanity.

Plan Ahead

Start by doing a little legwork with your school’s front office. What photography company do you use? Similar to yearbook companies, photography companies also have representatives who work with your school to coordinate picture day and delivery. Request contact information for your rep and reach out to introduce yourself before the big day. It is helpful to use this opportunity to:

     Ask when you can expect the portraits to be delivered

     Ask if portraits will be sent via disk or digital download

     Request large-format picture sizes to prevent print quality issues (640 x 800 pixels) 

If you are an elementary school and you intend on using the professional group photo for each class page, it is vital to confirm the group photo date now and when you can expect the digital files. Many photography companies do not release the digital files for group photos, or they are taken too late in the year to meet publishing deadlines. If you find yourself in this situation, picture day is perfect for snapping your own class photo after the students file through the line for individual shots.

Before picture day, decide what your class pages will look like. Do you have space for candid and quotes? Gather these on picture day while students are waiting in line for their portraits. Click here for yearbook question ideas for students.

Lastly, contact with your school’s administration and ask for their support on picture day for getting the teachers and faculty to sit for their individual portraits. Some principals will be eager to help as they also use these photos in the school. Collaborating on this will keep you from hunting down teacher photos at deadline time.

School Picture Day

Plan on getting to school early to meet the photographers and the photo representative. Putting faces with names is helpful for building a great working relationship with your rep. (They can save you in a pinch!) If you are not able to be there the whole day, ask for volunteers from other parent volunteers or your yearbook team. As teachers are bringing their classes down, ask for their support in checking the spelling of student names on the namecards provided by most companies. If a student’s name is misspelled, mark the change so the photography company can update the student record before it makes its way onto the portrait disk.

As students are filing in, have your camera ready to capture candid moments. Write down the names of students and their classroom teacher or grade so you can refer back and easily sort the photos after the day is over. If you plan to fill extra space in your yearbook with Q&As and quotes, now is the perfect time to gather this information. Not sure what to ask?

As mentioned in the planning phase, if your photographer will not release or you cannot get the group shots of the classes in time, today is an excellent time to grab the class and have them pose for a fun photo outside on the playground or in front of the school. Doing it now will save you individual trips to every classroom later in the year.

Let students know yearbooks are on sale by handing out order form. The more opportunities to promote the yearbook the better.

Does your school do something special in the yearbook for the oldest grade? Using picture day to capture those additional poses or quotes is ideal. See examples here.

Wrapping everything up

You’ve survived picture day! It may have been an exhausting experience, but you’ll thank yourself later, we promise. Be sure to send a thank you to the administration and teachers for their help. Being visible and proactive in your communication helps get teachers on board with the importance of yearbook.

Before you relax and get back to your normal routine, be sure to immediately file portraits into folders by teacher or grade. Transfer any quotes or caption information into a place for safe keeping (if using StudioWorks, enter caption details directly in the image description.)

Take time to follow up with the photography company representative to confirm retake day and the delivery of the portrait images. Mark your calendar so you can easily remember to reach out if you have not heard from them by the date promised. Note: It is best practice to only use the photos provided after retake day. Doing this allows the photo company to resolve duplicates and ensures you have a more complete and accurate collection of student images.

Feeling accomplished yet?


Attend a Convention: Amp up staffers’ love for journalism with a cool field trip

One of the best ways to spark a love for journalism in your students is to attend a national convention. Journalism conventions provide opportunities to network with professionals, see award-winning publications and learn from experts.

Two of the leading scholastic journalism organizations in the country, JEA (Journalism Educators Association) and NSPA (National Scholastic Press Association), collaborate on national events, hosting fall and spring journalism conventions every year. This November, about 5,000 students will attend the fall convention in Dallas.

Why bring your students to a convention?

Education ignites motivation

Journalism conventions such as this feature high-profile keynote speakers, giving your staff a chance to learn from and be inspired by journalists from different fields and backgrounds. Whether it be a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer or an Emmy Award winning reporter, exposing students to the world of journalism and career options available can both inspire and motive.  Students also have the opportunity to attend a variety of journalism sessions, learning about everything from design and typography to understanding diversity in media.

Compete for awards (and bragging rights)

Write-off contests give students a chance to put their skills to the test and compete against student journalists from across the country and abroad. Contests span the journalism spectrum, covering everything from yearbook caption writing to broadcast commentary. Contests are judged by qualified professionals and educators from across the country, and awards are given during the closing ceremony. Click here to learn more about JEA/NPSA’s write-off contest opportunities.

Grow your network

Conventions give journalism students and educators alike the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, learn about journalism career opportunities and develop mentoring relationships with seasoned professionals. Conventions are also a great place for students to visit with representatives from college and university journalism programs who attend as exhibitors.

Staffs also can have publications critiqued, attend round tables with professional media and see yearbooks from around the country.

For those unable to attend the convention in Dallas in November, CSPA (Columbia Scholastic Press Association) also provides a similar experience, hosting its annual spring convention every March in New York City.  JEA and NSPA’s spring event is in San Francisco this April. That’s ample time to save money and plan travel for one fabulous field trip. Need help convincing your administration to let your staffs travel? Check out Why Conventions Matter.

State organizations also host journalism conventions and offer critique services and awards to motivate your staffs and build individual and staff resumes. Here’s a list of state organizations.

Stop in for a Balfour Plant Tour while you’re in Dallas

Attending journalism conventions can spark creativity, energize your students and help build your staff. We hope to see you in two months in Dallas! If you’re coming to the convention, we’d love to show you around our yearbook publishing plant. Tours for you and your staff can be scheduled on Thursday, November 16. Sign up here.

Yearbook tips when you aren’t sure where to start

If you’re reading this blog, more than likely you’ve found your way into the wonderful world of yearbook. First things first, welcome! Doing the yearbook is an exciting and special opportunity to be a part of your school’s history. At the same time, it can be an overwhelming project. If you’re like many yearbook advisers, you’ve probably asked yourself a series of questions similar to the one above.

Where do I start?

How do I sell books?

Who do I contact?

I do the yearbook, so now what?

We’re here to answer those questions, guide you through the yearbook journey and help you have a successful yearbook delivery, whether it’s your first time doing yearbook or you’re a seasoned pro.

The first day of school has come and gone, and fall weather is making its appearance. As you start thinking ahead to what the year has in store, take a moment to check these items off your yearbook to-do list.

Meet with your rep

Set an appointment to meet with your representative in person. Along with your in-plant account executive, your rep will be your lifeline to all things yearbook. They can guide you through the process, calm your fears and walk you through the software you’ll be using to design your yearbook pages. In addition to your rep, you also have an in-plant account executive who is assigned to your school. They help coordinate the production of your yearbook pages inside the plant as well as help with software support.

Recruit a yearbook team and photographers

The yearbook is more fun with friends. Reach out to parents or teachers who are willing to help with creating and editing layouts, taking photos and coordinating sales on campus. Be sure to take advantage of Balfour’s ImageShare app which allows anyone in the school to submit photos for consideration in the yearbook right from their smartphone. Keep track of everyone on your team as well as other important school contacts with this handy sheet from the Balfour Adviser Guide sent in your starter kit.

Set 3-5 goals for your yearbook

What does success look like to you? Setting your goals now will establish expectations for yourself and your yearbook team as you tackle the rest of the year. Goals can include the number of books you wish to sell, the amount of money you intend on raising and the number of times you wish to picture everyone in the yearbook. Other goals might include spelling every student’s name correctly (hint: request a student list from the front office now) and meeting your deadlines so stress stays out of sight.

Set up online sales

Setting up an online store is a convenient way for parents to purchase yearbooks and student ads/dedications. Schools that offer online stores consistently sell more books, so set your store up early and begin promotions during the first month. Before setting up your store, your rep can help with budgeting to establish your sales price. Use flyers, posters and web buttons to promote your store and guide parents to the right location to make their purchases. Need more selling tips and ideas? Sign up for Balfour’s Yearbook Sales Manager Program.

Focus on photos now

Photo opportunities are happening every day, so your focus during the first couple of months of the year should be on capturing as many photos as possible. Having your yearbook team helping to cover as many events as possible makes designing pages easier once you’re ready to get started.



8 essentials to Jedi-mastering your yearbook theme

Light vs. darkness. Nature vs. technology. Fate vs. destiny. Good vs. evil. The underlying themes of “Star Wars” are woven into the story, giving it meaning.

And while yearbook themes are not quite as dramatic, they do follow the same Star Wars logic. A theme is the central message of a yearbook, with elements working together to support it. Patterns and ideas come up frequently to reinforce the concept. The repetition of words, colors and graphics gives the theme meaning.

So what’s the best way to develop a yearbook theme? Let’s begin with a little Jedi yearbook training:

1. Pick a word or phrase that embodies this year. Build the theme around changes happening, a word that represents your school or a fun phrase that connects with the student body. Choosing a theme that fits your school is a really big deal. A school going through transitions could choose “Shift,” “Go with it” or “Variations.” A school spirit theme could focus on the name, school colors, mascot or street: “Traits of a [mascot here]” or “We are [school name].” A fun or catchy phrase can lend itself to cool theme ideas: “Life as we know it,” “It is what it is,” or “Say what?

2. Create a logo to visually convey the theme. Select fonts that show the personality of the theme concept. (Hint: the font book is a great resource!) Use only those fonts throughout the book. Sketch or design the placement of the theme word/s and share with your rep so the cover artists can expand on the look.

3. Choose colors. Think about the personality of the theme. Does it call for school colors? Pastels? Bright, bold colors? Do you plan to use set colors throughout the book or pull spot color dependent on the dominant photos?

4. Select a graphic element that visually extends the theme. Look at magazines and Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Think about lines, bars, circles and other shapes. Check out our post on supercharging your yearbook theme with visual validation. 

5. Brainstorm verbal connections. Carry out the theme with verbal reiterations of it. Think of words, phrases and synonyms that reflect the theme. Play off of individual words or the whole theme phrase.

6. Create secondary coverage packages that connect to the theme. Use the verbal ideas to flesh out sidebars that bring another layer of coverage. If the theme is “Life as we know it,” a module on the football spread could be called “Life as a…” and then feature players in different positions (quarterback, receiver, left tackle, center).

7. Consider a whole-book link. Whole-book links are small connections to the theme that run on every page or spread of the book. Often these are pictures or quotes that link to the theme idea.

8. Incorporate the theme into the folios. Adding the graphic element into the folios,  or page numbers, is a simple and subtle way to showcase the theme on each page.

Enough training for one day? Discussing these theme elements with your staff will ensure you’re on your way to being a Yearbook Jedi master. As Yoda says, “Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.”