Thursday, October 21, 2010

Special guest blog: "Rising from the Ashes," Part One: My Yearbook Experience by Sam Morton

A visitor to the Reinhardt archives in the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center can learn much about the history of the school just from perusing old yearbooks. Our collection of the Cherokee Phoenix dates back to 1948, but stops abruptly in 2004, the last year Reinhardt had an official yearbook. What record will current Reinhardt students leave behind them if they have no yearbook?

One Reinhardt student, Sam Morton, is embarking on a quest to raise the Cherokee Phoenix, like its mythical namesake, back up from the ashes. She will be chronicling this effort here on the library blog. Here in the first installment, Sam describes her personal experience of working on her high school yearbook and what it has meant for her.

I do believe that Reinhardt University is in dire need of a yearbook.
How did I come to this conclusion? It’s a simple, professional opinion.

During my sophomore year of high school, I joined the yearbook staff. It wasn’t my first choice for an elective class (I wanted to take Drawing 1 with all my heart), but it turned out to be the best accident ever. I was assigned to the ads section and realized quickly, that even though working in ads wasn’t the most interesting section in the book, I loved everything about the yearbook process. I loved researching stories, interviewing people, and designing layouts. The photographic aspect however, was my favorite. I loved learning about the cameras, the techniques used to take a great photo, and how the photos should be placed in the book to achieve ultimate aesthetic value.

Yearbook class gave me something to be passionate about. Because I knew this product would be given to people in my school and displayed around the community, I always wanted to do my best. As a newbie though, it was difficult to get my ideas in the book.

My junior year was where I realized my love for graphic design. This has come to be my major in college and I’m lucky that I realized my love for the art so early. I know what I want to do with my life because of my experiences in yearbook.
No longer a newbie, I was able to have a real influence over the content of the book. My stories were published. My photos were chosen. My ideas were listened to and expounded upon. I really felt accomplished and productive. It was a new feeling to me. My passion simply grew. I worked harder in that one elective class than I had ever worked in any of my core classes during my entire life. I wanted to do a good job so badly that I frequently lost sleep due to photo editing jobs. Making deadline was paramount.

Because of all of this hard work, I was chosen by my advisor to be Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook staff during my senior year. This, by far, was the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I had ever done.

I had to learn to speak publicly and convey my ideas effectively. I had to assign jobs, settle disputes, and even learn to get angry when my staff members were wasting time and not turning in assignments by deadline. I held my staff members to high expectations and when they pulled through, I was very proud of them. It was more work to be an editor than I had anticipated, but when the year was over and our book was published, I felt completely satisfied. My staff had done a great job and created the best yearbook of my high school yet.

Keep watching this space for further updates on the journey to revive the Phoenix! If you're interested in being part of this effort, see Sam, or send me a message at amm "at", and I will pass your contact information on to her. Sam, thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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