For seniors, social media can’t match a yearbook

Yearbook co-editors Mary Perlee and Sarah Evans. (Rebecca Isenhart/Gazette Reporter)Yearbook co-editors Mary Perlee and Sarah Evans. (Rebecca Isenhart/Gazette Reporter)

Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Sarah Evans and Mary Perlee can give at least 3,000 reasons their high school yearbook is better than any Facebook group or Instagram hashtag.

The two seniors are co-editors of Crossroads, Niskayuna High School’s schoolwide yearbook and despite being social media users themselves, they’ve worked hard to convince their classmates there’s nothing like the real thing.

One selling point: more than 3,000 photographs pack its pages.

Perlee and Evans worked together to plan, proofread, and lay out the 200-plus page book that will land in the hands of hundreds of their classmates.

Jill Fountain, one of the yearbook club’s advisers, said over the past few years social media has interrupted yearbook sales, which threatens the affordability of the books for those who do choose to buy them. Right now, they range from $55 to $70 depending on what time of year students decide to purchase.

“We have to sell 600 books to break even,” Fountain said. So far, they’ve sold 450 and counting, partly by creating a contest between the dozen or so Crossroads club members to see who could get the most orders.

Beyond that massive stack of books, any additional money the club collects goes into funding computers, software, printers, ink and other design supplies for the book’s creators.

Crossroads, Niskayuna High School’s yearbook

More lasting

It seems like an awful lot of effort for something that many consider an anachronism in an age when throwing an album of photographs together online takes almost no effort at all. But the editors said the yearbook represents a more lasting, fine-tuned, and complete record of time spent in school.

The book is permanent where the Internet is ethereal. Decades from now, specially designed “trends” sections of the publication will force students to confront big questions such as: What was it we liked so much about the Kardashians? And which shows did we watch on Netflix instead of working on our homework?

It’s important stuff that might not otherwise come back to embarrass and bewilder, as yearbooks should.

Online, people tend to connect only with their own friends. But on the yearbook’s glossy pages, a lab partner from sixth grade, a friendly acquaintance from music class, or even a beloved teacher may smile out from a page corner and reignite a pleasant memory.

“We did this page for Mr. Treanor,” she said, leafing through a spread packed with photos from 1990.

Mark Treanor held several positions at the high school, including an assistant principalship, before moving to the district’s administrative offices in the middle of this academic year to coordinate support services for students and teachers. He also made an impact on students, many of whom were sad to see him go.

“It’s a spotlight of him because of how much he’s done,” Perlee said.

One school

Representing various groups as evenly as possible is a huge part of the two students’ mission.

“In the end we’re all one school,” Perlee said.

The club expanded its reach by working together with students who tend to hang around different departments and clubs, such as art aficionado Nick Paquin. He helped design the intricate covers and opening pages for each section, which feature photo collages cropped into unusual shapes such as a graduation cap or a football.

The two editors in chief also delegated work to section editors for each part of the yearbook, so they could count on every detail being checked.

Though they’ve challenged the yearbook’s existence at times, social media and technology have also helped in some ways. Many students have smartphones and constantly snap photos with the intention of posting them online, which means when the editors are searching for a picture of an event, they can usually find one.

The pair will miss working together when the book is finally sent to the publishing company, Balfour, and leaves their control for good. But they’re also excited for the moment when their friends first crack open the cover and crease the pages.

“My favorite part is always seeing the yearbook when it’s done and printed, and seeing other people’s reactions,” Evans said.