Owen high school yearbooks are as vital as ever

Barbara Hootman

Some high schools have dropped yearbooks as relics from the past. But Owen High School still treasures its yearbook, something it’s done since 1954.

They’re just a lot more expensive. The Owen yearbook cost $75. And for just $10 more, students can by an “e-yearbook” that can be carried on a mobile device and saved for future use. (The e-yearbook cannot be purchased without getting the printed version. Call Owen High School at 686-3852 to place an order.)

The Owen yearbook does not have an official name, but each year there is a new theme. This year it is “Warhorses.”

“The cover is a real picture of a letter jacket, complete with buttons on the front, and a hood on the back with the Warhorses logo,” Jason Minnix, faculty sponsor, said via e-mail. “The yearbook staff designed it. A graphic artist from the publisher visited and enhanced the design, giving it realism. It took him about 30 minutes. Balfour Studios (the publisher) liked the design so much that they’ve asked permission - and we’ve granted it - to use in their promotional materials nationwide.”

Minnix believes the yearbook is an integral part of not only students’ school life but also of their lives as they grow older.

“With the advent of cyber-social technologies such as Facebook and Instagram, there seem to be an endless number of connections we can all make instantly,” he said. “However, I also know when I open my own yearbooks from high school, there are so many moments that I can recall vividly. I can’t say the same for online social media where connective sites seem to be more about the instant and immediate.”

The student staff markets the yearbook through social media.

“With such a prevalent social media influence, we’re actually able to market the yearbook and reach a wider audience,” Regan Daniels, student editor-in-chief, said. “This year the yearbook staff set up an Instagram page for the book and posted information on the schools’ Facebook page.”

The high school yearbook is a school year-long project for the eight-member staff that produces it, and its faculty sponsor.

Carol Tyson, an Owen High School graduate (class of ’68), still has all her high school yearbooks and looks through them often.

“I frequently run into someone I knew in high school, sometimes another local person, but more likely someone who is visiting their old home town,” she said. “When you haven’t seen someone in over 40 years, even though you might remember their name, a look through your old yearbook brings back a familiar face and memories. Those memories are immediate and honest.

“Looking through your old yearbook is a quick trip to the past. Years of childhood fun and teen drama were shared with classmates.”

“A yearbook today is just as important to a high school student as it was in the past,” Daniels said. “As always, it’s a trove of memories that will last forever. Today’s yearbooks are more expansive than they’ve ever been.”

Gone are the long nights after a full school day and weekends of working on the yearbook. Most of it is done on the computer.

“We don’t hand-layout pages anymore,” Minnix said. “We use software provided by both the photography company and the yearbook printer. Now many pictures are submitted by students. The yearbook company has a mobile app (software application) where a student or teacher can instantly upload a picture they would like to see in the yearbook that they have personally taken. It goes to our website where we have it to work with.

“Technology gives students the freedom to work from home. They can ‘log in’ and work collectively from wherever they are, suggest edits to one another’s pages, change layouts and collaborate online.”

The student staff learns the basics of producing the yearbook during the first semester of school in a class taught by Minnix. He describes it as being all encompassing the first semester and fragmented the second semester.

“Mr. Minnix is the new teacher for the yearbook class, and almost everyone on staff had never taken the class before,” Daniels said. “We all learned from the beginning at the same pace, which was definitely one of the largest struggles we faced as a team. But we overcame it and did a pretty good job on this year’s yearbook.”

David Rozzell graduated from high school in 1964 and still has his yearbooks. He, too, refers to them often.

“Sometimes as often as three to four times a week,” he said. “It is hard to keep up with my Facebook friends without them. I’ve located some of the Vietnam veterans that I served with through my yearbooks, and can remember what they look like in high school.”