My 11th yearbook is finished, and yet I dread

I submitted the final pages to the yearbook today, six days before my final deadline -- the earliest I have ever been done with a yearbook. This past year's was an undertaking at 152 pages, one of our larger books.

Now, I know the high schools in my area have much larger books, but those yearbooks get to keep their students for the entire year. I have had 11 completely different yearbook classes lay their hands on this year's book at some point.

Within a timeframe of nine or ten weeks, they have to be able to write journalistic stories that capture the year (and the theme), understand  design terms, as well as know how to use the enormous online yearbook program we create the yearbook with, take pictures, upload them, and organize them, as well as write captions, good captions, for said photos.

So, yes, 152 pages is a lot when 300 or so students are on the yearbook "staff."

But, today, the final pages were submitted and my Yearbook COPD is now gone.

I can breathe. For now.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but this stress level is just Phase Three out of Five.

Phase One is getting the theme, design, and look of the yearbook set. I am not dealing with graphic designers. I, also, don't want to take over and make the yearbook something I would create. There's a fine line between coaching, suggesting and taking the mouse from their hands and doing it myself. Usually, it's still warm out, deadlines are far away, and it doesn't get dark until after 8 p.m. Essentially, Phase One is summer.

Phase Two is hammering out the buttload of content. Write the stories. Take the photos. Assign all the content to the pages. Get those clubs photos taken. Make sure we have photographers at sporting events so we don't just run one game on a team's page (sorry, wrestling..although, I think we got at least two this year). Submit the 16 color pages on deadline before winter break. Sit on all the other pages until we come back in January.

Phase Three is a mad dash from the beginning of January until the middle of March. At this point, minus a few students who have had me before, I am the only one who really knows what's going on. In order to get the rest of the yearbook finished, I have to be super organized in my directing. I am an orchestrator of chaos. I wave my baton at all the students. At one point, a student is working on a clubs page, but wait! Just kidding, you're too good to be working on that, you need to be over there working on the performing arts pages that are super difficult this year. With the help of my six editors who stay with me all year, we iron out all the wrinkles, submit pages, and by the time March hits, I pluck out my gray hairs.

Phase Four won't happen until the yearbooks arrives in May. This is when I cut open a box, take out a yearbook and look through it in pure glee. This is the first time really get to see cover and how it looks. The inside pages are actual pages that I can flip through with my hands and not the click of a mouse. I show people, and as they look through it, they are amazed. Phase Four is bliss. My editors come in, we count out yearbooks for distribution, they get their copy days in advance. They are proud of all the extra work they put into it. This ain't my first rodeo, but it is theirs, and their faces are worth it.


Phase Five.

This is when I have to actually give people the books. When I hand them over to the principals. When students take them home to their parents.

When I get the emails.

Phase Five, although minimal, can sometimes be the unraveler of all the hard work I, and the kids, have put forth for eight months.

Phase Five is when the parents complain.

Phase Five is a whole other post all on its own.