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When I first started advising my requirements for joining the yearbook staff were strict: a high GPA, success in honors-level English and a glowing recommendation from an English teacher were all non-negotiable. But then I met Stephen.
A guidance counselor friend of mine came to me during the first week of school to ask me a favor—would I take Stephen in my yearbook class? Stephen was a senior who struggled in most of his classes. He was in team-taught English. He had never been involved in school activities. In other words, he wasn’t “yearbook staff material.” But my counselor friend told me that Stephen was a special kid who took pretty pictures so I decided to take a chance.
Stephen was easily the nicest kid I’ve ever had on staff — and by far the best photographer. Stephen never wrote a caption or copy by himself but he spent countless hours after school covering events and training the rest of our staff how to use our cameras. Stephen was calm and kind and when kids were around him, they became more calm and kind themselves. The only regret I ever had about allowing Stephen to join the staff was that I didn’t get him on staff before his senior year.
So now, when I talk to each counselor individually before course registration begins, I identify one student from their part of the alphabet who is/was a phenomenal yearbook staffer and my conversation goes a little something like this:
ME: “Do you remember Stephen?”
COUNSELOR: “Oh, I loved Stephen. What a great kid…”
ME: “Stephen is great and he was a terrific yearbook staffer. When you are registering kids for next year, do you think you could be on the lookout for any other ‘Stephens’ out there? You know, kids who ………”
There’s a place for everyone in our yearbook – both in the pages of this historical record that we produce, but also on the staffs that produce it.