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In Living Colour: Capturing Lasting Memories via the Yearbook Club

As you flip through the freshly printed pages of the 2021-22 St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) yearbook, know this: planning for next year’s version is already underway.

SMCS | Christina Shin, Teacher and Yearbook Club moderator
Christina Shin is a technological design teacher at St. Michael’s College School and staff moderator of the Yearbook Club.

“I enjoy seeing the theme take shape especially with the cover, end sheets, and divider pages,” says Christina Shin, Yearbook Club moderator at SMCS. It is one of more than 60 school clubs and activities offered.

Shin, who teaches technological design at SMCS, knows the landscape intimately.

She has overseen the production of 15 school yearbooks over the course of her 24-year teaching career. “Apart from it being a way to archive a school year — as well as being a legal document used by other organizations — it reflects the voice of the students for each year,” she says. “The students pick the theme and the artwork, together, in the club.”

Cuejun Choi can speak to that firsthand. The Grade 12 student is set to embark on his second straight year as a member of the Yearbook Club.

“I decided to become involved because the yearbook is a collection of memories captured from the whole year,” he says. “I like to be able to contribute my part in the yearbook creation and add my ideas and thoughts.”

The 128-page effort is a nine-month long journey, yielding more than 1,100 printed copies.

For Choi, the experience was packed with new knowledge.

SMCS Yearbook Club | Ms. Shin and a student reviewing yearbook

“I learned more about the iterative process with my process of designing the cover,” he continues. “I was given tons of advice to improve the cover and every little change helped the cover to be as good it is today.”

There were also some surprises along the way he says, namely, “how many good ideas there were for the covers. I was given so many templates to spark my ideas and I was able to use little parts from each template to create my own original cover.”

The experience also helped him develop and deepen transferrable skills for the future.

SMCS student participating in school club
Cuejun Choi is a Grade 12 student and a returning member of the Yearbook Club.

“In this club, I was able to hone my skills in Photoshop,” he says. “This can help me with my future post-secondary education as I hope to study architecture.”For Shin, whose professional background also includes photography and graphic design, the learning that takes place for students through the yearbook creation process is both wide and deep.

Among those she lists: “basic photography composition, interview skills, writing skills, publishing and editing skills, graphic design and page layout, working within a deadline constraint, computer software skills, ethics and legal issues when working on a publication, building a theme and carrying that through the book, portfolio examples for post-secondary programmes.”

Yearbook Club reviewing the 2021-22 school yearbook

Many of which are widely considered ‘life’ skills in today’s rapidly evolving world.

During this creative process comes the ongoing ebb and flow of gathering material and meeting deadlines to ensure delivery to the printer in July and distribution to students, staff, and new graduates in September.

Among the main challenges of this undertaking in a high school environment, says Shin: “When the yearbook deadline coincides with the end of year evaluations and the students don’t have time to pull the remaining pieces together. Waiting on information from various areas of the school and for end-of-school events to happen such as graduations and sports finals.”

SMCS Yearbook Club

Still, the finished product is well worth the long, winding road to get there.

And, says Shin, there is always room on the bus for interested students.

SMCS 2021-22 yearbook

“The Yearbook Club is open to anyone who wants to join from Grades 7-12,” she says. “It runs on Wednesday afternoons starting the first week of October for about 30 minutes after school. We usually need one to two representatives from each grade to do interviews, collect candid photos, and quotes from fellow students in the grade. As well, we need students to fulfil other organizational roles to complete various sections (Arts, Activities and Clubs, Music and Sports, Grads).”

And much like the first day of school, excitement and anticipation await for the next yearbook production journey.

“It’s always great to see the final product when the book is published and handed out,” says Shin. “I don’t know if there is any other club or class that can show their work in a published book that is part of the history of a school year and all the behind-the-scenes work involved.”

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