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Middle School Students Drive Yearbook Project

A group of twenty Huston Middle School students will sum up 36 weeks of academics, sports, fieldtrips and friendships in the school’s yearbook – with very little adult influence.

Guidance Counselor Kristy McCurdy oversees the HMS Yearbook Staff, but leaves the decision-making and design in the hands of the competent student staff. Not only does this approach lead to a better-received yearbook, but it also gives the yearbook staff members the chance to build interpersonal and organizational skills.

“It’s their yearbook,” Ms. McCurdy says. “Students buy yearbooks to see themselves and their friends. If a teacher or parent put together the yearbook, it might not be what the students want to see. The student body is happier with the end product when they, themselves, have had the largest role in producing the yearbook.”
Kids know what kids want – an honest representation of life at HMS in an aesthetically pleasing format.

“When you’re on the yearbook staff, you are showing what Huston Middle School is all about,” says seventh grader and Design Editor Rhianna Davis. “Taking pictures of the basketball team and the students in the crowd – that’s sharing who we are as a school.”

Ms. McCurdy handles the business end of yearbook production: organizing a fundraiser for the yearbook, handling the cash, securing a contract with Walsworth Yearbooks (the publisher of the HMS yearbook), and setting up the website students use to design pages. The students do everything else.
Eighth grade student Emma Hough serves as Editor-in-Chief, overseeing the other students who take pictures, write editorial content and design page layouts on deadline. The aspiring politician sees her role as a chance to work on her leadership skills, encouraging teamwork among staff members and assigning different events and organizations to students to photograph.

Amanda Sylvester is the yearbook’s Copy Editor, combing through other students’ articles looking for grammatical errors. The eighth-grader also teaches the younger students that often “less is more” when laying out the yearbook pages. Treasurer Megan Benish helps set the budget for the yearbook, and also oversees the sales and marketing aspects of the yearbook. “This has helped me become more open to other people – I was really shy last year,” says the seventh-grader.

The yearbook staff will finish the school year with more than the published 64-page yearbook. “It reinforces responsibility and time management skills, which they are already learning in school,” Ms. McCurdy says. “Also, being on the yearbook staff really encourages teamwork. Everyone has to work together, on deadline, or else there is no yearbook. Everyone has to do their part.”

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