Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Yearbook

My apologies to Robert Fulghum, who wrote the most excellent book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten from which this post is based. It didn’t make my book list the other day, but should have.

Yearbook publishing can be complicated stuff, but much of what makes a good staff member isn’t all that different from the earliest things we learned in school.

1. Share everything.
Borrow good ideas from magazines, the web and newspaper articles and then help your fellow staff members. Share your time, your chips, your money and your friendship.

2. Play fair.
You’re not the only one who needs the camera today. We all must make deadline or it doesn’t matter, so help someone else out when you’re finished. Don’t just sit there listening to your iPod.

3. Don’t hit people.
And don’t attack them verbally either. Don’t spread gossip. Don’t attack their ideas or call them stupid.

4. Clean up your own mess.
Don’t turn in half finished work. Check your spelling, grammar and links. Make sure your photos are the correct dpi. Pick up when we do something fun. Pick up the trash and put it in the can. Put your stuff away before leaving the room and close all your open applications on the computer.

5. Don’t take things that aren’t yours
Don’t make up quotes. Look up the names and grades of people in photos. If you borrow someone’s tape recorder or clipboard, give it back. If you borrowed a cable from someone else’s box, put it back where you found it.

6. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
If you make an honest mistake, make a correction as soon as possible. If you make another staff member mad, say you’re sorry. And mean it. We could all be a little kinder, a little more understanding and a little more helpful.

7. Wash your hands before you eat.
Don’t grab a donut on Saturday and then put it back in the box. Don’t take the last piece of pizza. Don’t roam the halls when you are supposed to be doing interviews. And use the Kleenex when you sneeze and the hand sanitizer every day.

8. Flush.
Don’t be afraid to replace, rewrite, redesign or give up on something that is crap. Sometimes “when in doubt throw it out” is the best philosophy. Never fall in love with your story, page, package, graphic or photo.

9. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
When we have a party, bring something; same goes for Saturdays and meeting days. You like to eat, so do we.

10. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
It is OK to play some, but first we have to WORK some. The work must get done or the thing will never be finished.

11. Take a nap every afternoon.
Staying up late and getting up early doesn’t make you more productive. Take breaks, go home, take a real nap in the afternoon. Get some sleep at night and come to school ready to be a great staff member. If it is after 1 AM, turn off all the lights and electronics; close your eyes – set an alarm. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel.

12. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
A lot of people will say bad things about the yearbook and the staff – don’t be one of them. On the road of life, you need someone to walk with. Become friends with a staff member and you will be friends for life. Push them away and they will stay away. You only get back whatever you put into any relationship.

13. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Every day something new and wonderful appears in the little world we call our school. PAY ATTENTION. Check it out. Be amazed. Learn something new everyday. Bring it to class. It keeps your mind fresh, your options open, and our book up to date. If you think writing is boring or dead, then you may need a new class.

14. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
Every year, the seniors will graduate, the book will be finished and we have to plant the seeds of a new book. That is the circle of life. Seniors need to find one freshman and get him or her to sign up for the staff next year.

15. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
You won’t learn anything at all if you don’t try. Everything I learned in yearbook came from trying new stuff and generally playing around. Every day I read many sites to see what is happening in the journalism world and the world in general. Every day I see something new happen at our school. LOOK and LEARN, then write about it or take a picture.

Mr. C

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