Look Around: An Editor's Note
Dear Mr. Brown,
As a member of the Vanguard staff for the past three years, it has been an absolute joy to be a part of the production of the yearbook. Yearbook has been a time for me to relax and take a break from the stresses of GSMST’s rigorous academic curriculum. As you have probably discovered, I am a very detail-oriented person, so designing and working on spreads - tweaking them for even the most minor imperfections – has sincerely been my happy place. The relaxed yet industrious atmosphere created during the production of the Vanguard has been an environment that I have really been able to thrive in over the past few years.
While my time in yearbook and at GSMST comes to a close, I can look back on my experience and genuinely say that it has been an unforgettable one. From critiquing comical photos in class to gossiping about school drama, yearbook has been more than just a class for me. It has been like a second family. Looking into the future, I am confident that I will apply many of the skills I have gained and refined in yearbook to other areas of life. Learning about the importance of time management and organization is one of the most important lessons I will take with me in the future. I intend on working in business, so the communication skills I have acquired in yearbook will definitely be put to use. As a result of this class, I plan on working on a university publication during college so that I can continue to write and express myself.
Upon reflection, I think that this year has been my best one yet in yearbook. The stress of juggling several spreads on top of my busy schedule was no longer a worry. I felt in charge of and in the loop on everything I had to do to succeed in this class. I am now a true “veteran” and can pass on the ropes to the next group of journalists.
So, now, I ask of you to join me in reflecting on this past year of hard work, endless laughs, and laudable output. Let’s look back.
Look Within: A Self-Analytical Evaluation
One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is that having an organized plan set in place makes tackling big tasks much easier to do. For example, scheduling club pictures could have been very disorganized and overwhelming given the number of clubs at school and the number of potential time slots for taking the photos. Because I laid out an organized and color-coded method of scheduling the photos beforehand, the task was very simple. I had a Google doc with all the available times and color-coded clubs that had communicated with me, confirmed their time slot, and taken their photo. This system made it clear what days photos were scheduled for so that I could make sure that there would be a photographer there each time. As a result, there was always a photographer present and on-time at all photos and no photos were double-booked.
This class was valuable to take because it teaches the importance of organization and time management, which are both skills that are useful at all stages of life. Whether it was planning out how I would complete my spreads before a deadline or creating a system for organizing my photos in folders, I had to stay on top of my yearbook responsibilities in order to have quality material ready on (or before) due dates. I plan on using these skills in college and beyond, especially when it comes to planning out how to study for tests and exams or organizing my various commitments into a clear schedule.
Look Into: A Series of Reflections
I consider the calendar spread from the Student Life section to be my most significant piece of work for the book this year. It was one of the more difficult spreads for me to complete because I had to design it from scratch and had to track down dates, information, and pictures about the school since its establishment ten years ago. I went through several drafts of designing before I came across the main inspiration for my final design online. Once I decided on the general design of a mosaic of different sized and colored boxes, I had to figure out which events I would cover and how I would get information about and pictures from those events. I had to consult with teachers and scour school archives online to dig up information about past milestones. From working on this spread, I learned the importance of communication and following up with others, especially when working with my partner, teachers, and faculty. If I had not followed up, I would not have been able to get access to many of the photos, dates, and information that I ended up using on the spread. For instance, I had to follow up with the Tech Team several times about photos and information about the first ever laptop roll out in 2008. I am most proud of the look of the spread. It is neat, colorful, organized, and visually pleasing to the eye.
Teacher Superlatives spread
The Teacher Superlatives spread is a piece I worked on that could still use work. My group and I went through several different designs and didn’t have the end design that was used in the book until after we started uploading content. For a long time, we intended on using a different design where the superlative pictures would be in a diamond shape, but the space constraints made that design unusable. Because of this, the final design we arrived on was conceived from a design-as-you-go process while trying to put the final draft together. In this sense, there wasn’t as much time to come up with a more creative design. Though I am happy with the way it turned out, if I had the chance to improve it, I would definitely try to work more on improving the design so that there would be less white space and more space for quotes from the teachers. The process for this spread was by far one of the most stressful because of the difficulties we experienced in designing the spread and coordinating teacher pictures in a timely manner, but, overall, I am satisfied with how it turned out.
Club pictures planning document
I was an asset to the Vanguard staff and yearbook in that I played a big behind-the-scenes role. On top of working on my own spreads, I helped revise and mark spreads for completion, design the Senior Superlatives pages, put together the Teacher of the Year page, and run and edit club photos. I made yearbook an outside of class responsibility and time commitment, especially for club photos. Over the span of a month, I communicated with faculty and club leaders and was absent from Guided Study and stayed after school many times in order to take club pictures. I also edited all club photos for the index. Within class, I always made myself available to help new students with the class and to take on background responsibilities to ensure that the book got finished.
Look Upon: A Collection of Finished Products
I really like this spread because it is unique from spreads I have worked on and designed in the past for Student Life. This spread is mostly four separate modules but each module incorporates a different design element. The dominant design element on this spread is the slanted line, which is incorporated in the background of the spread and the module on the right-hand page. Another design element we used was overlap, which is applied in the career, spirit wear, and “where are they now?” modules. The spread is visually pleasing because various shapes are harmoniously incorporated into one spread that flows nicely from left to right (the eye follows the slanted background). I am thankful that we got detailed and interesting responses for the alumni survey we sent out, which made the process of contacting specific alumni easy. The content reflects my best work because I challenged myself in the design arena when conceptualizing the layout of this spread. I’m happy with the way it turned out because it covers students from seven different graduating classes and conveys data covering alumni as a whole.
This my best copy because of the amount of details unique to the year I managed to include in it. Originally, I had a more attention-grabbing intro paragraph written in the point of view of a group of Student Performance Night performers, but, due to space constraints, I had to cut it out. If given the chance to improve this copy, my suggested improvement would be to include an opening story to hook readers in at the beginning. I like how I emphasized Interact’s biggest events, acknowledged its more minor achievements, and highlighted its most important change this year, which was its new sponsorship with the Gwinnett Mosaic Rotary Club.