South Whidbey High School ...This is your life
June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:25 AM
"Photo: Gene Koffkin, South Whidbey's yearbook advisor, talks over upcoming page deadlines with his editorial staff.Matt Johnson, staff photoGet your yearbookAlthough it is still early, now is a good time to order a South Whidbey High School 2000 yearbook. Five hundred copies are already on sale for $40 if you order early, $43 each if you order late, and $45 if you order the book with a student's name embossed on the cover. To order a book, call the yearbook sales staff at 221-4300, ext. 5217. To place a business advertisement or a graduation ad in the book, call the same number.Shhh! It's a secret.Deep within the bowels of the second story of South Whidbey High School, more than two dozen pairs of eyes and ears are quietly watching and listening to the school's students. These sensory organs belong to members of the school's yearbook staff, and none of them are admitting to exactly what they are photographing and writing about in this year's edition.Of course, it's pretty easy to guess. The yearbook staffers are ubiquitous on the high school campus. Halfway through the school year, student photographers like Nichole McBride and Annalisa Flister can hardly appear in public without cameras slung around their necks. Two and three nights a week, the two teenage paparazzi snap their shutters at ball games, choir concerts, and theater events. But, like the rest of the student body, the two will have to wait until the yearbook is published to see the results of their work.Those results should be good, according to yearbook photo editor Elisa Magdelano. After peering at thousands of negatives through a magnifying glass during the past five months, she has her favorite shot of the year picked out. It is one of McBride's shots. It is an overview of the football field as football players stand for the Star Spangled Banner under a thick cloud of smoke from the Falcons' cannon, Big Blue. If any of the other photographers ask Magdelano what kind of shots she wants for the yearbook, she has an answer.Like that one Nicole took. Mmmm, mmm, Magdelano said.Flister agrees with Magdelano in principle.Just different people or something you don't normally see, said the senior shooter.Let's keep it a secretBecause the yearbook photographers do their developing and printing work in the school's only darkroom, plenty of art and photography students have seen the photos the yearbook staff had hoped to keep secret. But, upstairs in the yearbook work room, secrecy is, as the Ford Motor Company commercials used to phrase it, job one. This is especially true when it comes to what the cover of the 1999-2000 yearbook is going to look like. That is strictly under wraps. Not even its proud designer Elliot Cribbs will talk about the computer-aided design he created last semester.I'm not supposed to actually say anything, Cribbs said.Yearbooks usually tell the story of a high school almost entirely in pictures. But the South Whidbey High staff still has to insert a few words here and there to hold the book's theme together. Instead of using the obvious theme of the 2000 millennium changeover, the staff chose instead to focus on the passage of time.Staff writer Jesse Ellison said the paragraphs he his writing to introduce each section of the book will refer to time. However, he said he cannot point to any of his writing as truly standout stuff. He is just there to make a pleasant, readable and nostalgia-filled book that does not offend the sensibilities of students, staff, or school administration.We've got to keep it kind of calm, Ellison said.Yearbook includes timeless quotesIn addition to Ellison's work, famous quotes about time will be scattered throughout this year's book. This one, by author Anthony J. D'Angelo, explains a common high school task -- how to take a blue book test.Focus 90 percent of your time on solutions and only 10 percent on the problems, wrote D'Angelo.The quote could be a mantra for the yearbook staff. Two days before the end of last semester, the tension over finding solutions to problems in the yearbook work room had even staff advisor Gene Koffkin worried. Koffkin, a South Whidbey art teacher with previous experience in yearbook production, started the semester with a crew of students who, for the most part, had no previous journalism experience. As a result, his designers, business staff, photographers and editors had to put in a lot of evening work to make sure they had more than half of the 124-page book finished.Yearbook co-editor Howard Madsen said he enjoyed hopping onto a steep yearbook learning curve in September, even if it meant spending his afternoons and evenings at the high school. For the past couple of months, he said it has been his job to make sure the pages keep rolling out the door to the print shop.Basically, I do the stuff that needs to be done, Madsen said. I'm sort of the Renaissance man of the yearbook.Like the true Renaissance master, Leonardo di Vinci, Madsen is a believer in a good mid-day nap. Stretching out on an old couch in the yearbook classroom on that second to last day of the semester, Madsen dozed while the book's business staff tried to sort out order forms. He needed the sleep. Although he came to the yearbook with no publishing experience, he volunteered to be an editor and wound up spending dozens of long nights after school tied to a computer.It was a learning experience.It tells me, basically, you can do whatever you want to do, Madsen said.A lesson about working togetherThings were less placid across the room. Koffkin could not find several sets of yearbook order sheets, as well as a few sales forms. With just one full work day remaining in the semester, he gathered the business staff around a table and told them he needed a last-minute paperwork miracle.See, if you guys were working together, we'd have a better idea on this, Koffkin said. You can't leave me with any question marks.Question marks can be expensive. This year's printing bill for 500 copies of the yearbook will run about $40,000, Koffkin said. Even if the yearbook sales staff sells all the copies for the asking price of $43, that will pay for only about half the printing bill. So, in addition to hawking the books to students and school staff, the student sales staff brings in additional income by selling business advertisements and congratulations messages into the yearbook.But even that will not make up the difference. Koffkin said the yearbook staff will also run several fund raisers this spring. Any shortfall after that will have to come out of ASB funds.All the photos, words, and advertisements come together under the supervision of layout editor Melody Sinclair. Working in the PageMaker layout program on the school's Macintosh computers, Sinclair and her assistant editors build the pages that will appear in the yearbook. Old hands at the work now, all of them wince when they think of their first weeks on staff when their assignment was to create theme pages.That was the most intense, Sinclair said. We were making up our own layouts when we first learned the program.Semesters, staff changeAt the semester break, the yearbook went through a large staff turnover. Yearbook is a for-credit class, and because it is only one semester long, few of the staffers who started the year will end the year on staff. Koffkin said the first-semester class got a good start on the book, so the new class should be able to meet the March 27 printing deadline.Howard Madsen said he will stay on as staff editor for the remainder of the year. At this point, he said he could not blame any staffer who wants to call it quits at semester time.A lot of people had high expectations for the book and it's kind of overloading, Madsen said.Who stays and who leaves the staff may have everything to do with why individual students signed up for the class, Koffkin said.For some kids it's a love of journalism. For others, it's a vo-tech credit, Koffkin said.The yearbook will go on sale in May."