For the second consecutive year, I have coordinated a yearbook for the Central Oregon Christian Home Educators Association. This was a huge undertaking my first year – 1) because it was only myself and 2 teen volunteers, and 2) I followed the footsteps of the yearbook team that proceeded me and essentially did everything their way (with the exception of the page design or graphic layout). I was overwhelmed with all that was required – from obtaining advertisers (to bring the cost down), to negotiating a price with local printers (Staples, FedEx-Kinkos, etc.), and scanning and uploading all the pictures. At the end of the first year, I was not surprised that the previous team had burned out and wanted to pass on the reigns. I began to question my sanity and I vowed I wouldn’t do it again.
Then – just as I was ready to write my own resignation letter and pass the hat myself – I discovered Tree Ring
. Tree Ring is yearbook for the internet generation.
As I browsed their website and watched the tutorials, I became convinced that this was what I needed. I thereby gave it another year – much to my husband’s dismay as he was concerned it would once again overwhelm me – vowing that if Tree Ring didn’t improve the process, I would in fact walk away.
My 2010 – 11 Yearbook Team
According to their website, “Tree Ring takes advantage of the latest technology in just-in-time digital printing that allows for efficient, extremely high quality printing of one to one items, and the collaborative power of online social networks to create personalized printed yearbooks that commemorate each child’s unique school experience. The process reduces the yearbook creation and financial burden for schools and invests in our planet’s future by planting a tree for every yearbook printed.”
In the Classroom
Essentially, members of our homeschool community uploaded pictures direct to our school account on Tree Ring. The yearbook team of editors then utilized the pictures to put the yearbook pages together. If families neglected to upload their pictures … then they weren’t included in the book. It was as simple as that – though I did post many reminders and tutorials to our Yahoo board. As pictures were uploaded, the students in the picture were identified and the parent (or student) uploading the picture could also suggest a specific page.
Our yearbook consists of the following pages:
- Seniors are given a 1/2 page spread each
- Each grade level has a 1-2 page spread (depending upon the number of students) with a profile picture for each student
- Clubs & Co-ops
- In the Classroom (random pictures of students on task)
- Sports & Athletics
- Honor Society
- Homeschool Ski Days
- Winter Ball
- Performing Arts
- Field Trips
- The Great Outdoors
- Wild Things (pictures of students with animals)
What I love most about Tree Ring is the ability for each family to create custom pages. A 2 page spread is included in the price whether families choose to customize the pages or not – alternatively, families choosing to create more than the 2 pages simply pay a little extra. I elected to create 4 custom pages for each of my munchkins. I ordered two books and because of the custom pages, each one is unique. Some families, on the other hand, chose to create a family yearbook and thereby their custom pages reflect the endeavors and interests of the entire family rather than an individual child. Another way to do it is to create one family yearbook, but with a 1-2 page spread for each child. The flexibility is incredible!
Buddy’s second 2-page custom spread
As pictures were uploaded, parents also had the option of allowing the yearbook team access to the photo OR marking it private and thereby visible/accessible only to them. In this way, parents could assure a picture could be used on their custom pages but would not become part of the community or core yearbook.
In the end, our 50 page all color yearbook was only $13.99. Everyone has been delighted with the quality of the product, the flexibility of the site, and the excellent customer service. As we begin to distribute the yearbooks, my son asked, “Mom. Are we going to have yearbooks in California? I hope so.”