BFF & BFA (USA Today, June 1988)

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The times of their lives;Yearbooks turn a page to sophistication 
Craig Wilson 
1246 words
14 June 1988
USA Today
© 1988 USA Today. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.
ELDRIDGE, Iowa - The wait is over. 
The honor students have been honored, the girls' golf team has been praised, and the North Scott High School Singers have cleared the bleachers after their swan song - God Bless the USA. 
The only thing left to do on this Awards Day is to distribute the school's 1988 yearbook, The Shield. 
``It's what we call the half hour of hell,'' says Len Cockman, chairman of the school's language arts department and for 20 years the yearbook advisor. 
He has witnessed the scene before: 233 seniors pressing into principal Craig Hintz's glass-walled office to carry away the story of their life - all 224 pages of it. 
Yelling. Groaning. Shrieking. 
``Help, I can't breathe!'' yelled one senior being pressed up against the counter. He finally escaped into the hallway where the early reviews were already being handed down. 
``Oh, that's cool. That's neat,'' says Carla Jourdan. 
``Look at Bender!'' says Beth Enequist. 
``Where's Bender?'' asks Kelly McFate. ``Where's he at?'' 
Bender is on page 37, and the pages flutter back and forth until his photo is found. 
For more than an hour the seniors camp out in the hall, leaning up against the tile walls to dissect the yearbook. 
They have waited four years to do this. 
While yearbooks remain a strong USA tradition - 30,000 achools put one out annually, making it a $300 million-a-year industry - the yearbooks themselves are changing. 
No more page after page of just photos with captions. 
``The top quality yearbook today rivals any publication in print,'' says Marty Allen of Jostens, the largest of the country's six publishers of yearbooks, churning out 14,000 different books annually. 
``They're works of art. They're as good as anything Sports Illustrated comes up with,'' says Allen. ``They're using more color, more stories, more photos and graphics. It's not boring. They're trying to make yearbooks fun.'' 
The 1988 Shield has evidently succeeded at that. 
A shriek goes up. 
A photo of Mr. Van Dyke, the football coach, dressed up like a woman, has been spotted on page 71. 
Pages flutter to page 71. 
More shrieks. 
More howls. 
Nikki Baker, the yearbook's co-editor, says she worked 280 hours on the yearbook. She's putting in her last yearbook hours today, handing out 850 of them to seniors first, then underclassmen. 
``The inside I love. I'm happy with the inside,'' she says. ``I'm getting used to the outside.'' 
The bright yellow yearbook cover breaks a custom of darker and more traditional covers. Such changes dare accepted easily in this rural farm community just outside Davenport. 
Lori Smith, the other co-editor who along with Baker met six deadlines since last October, put in 301 hours. She isn't happy with the cover either. She discusses how she wished the word Shield was on an angle. 
But no one seems to be noticing the cover. 
``Who drew that?'' asked Jourdan of the professional-looking artwork on the yearbook's section dividers. 
``Josh,'' says McFate. 
``That's cool,'' says Enequist. 
``Why are the senior pictures so small?'' asks McFate. 
``Don't know,'' says Enequist 
``Look at that,'' says Jourdan. ``That's awesome. It's neat how they did this.'' 
What's neat is a two-page spread showing seniors next to their kindergarten photos. Not everyone was thrilled. 
``I love it. I love the little picture of me. It's so cute,'' says Amy Dewey, not meaning a word she says. 
She has no idea how her kindergarten photo made its way into the yearbook. ``No, I would not have done that, but it was a cute idea.'' 
The North Scott seniors are lucky in one way. They're getting to share their yearbook, to carry it around for a day while school is still in session. 
More and more schools are now distributing yearbooks in late summer so events such as the senior prom, graduation and spring sports can be included. 
About 40 percent of Jostens clients now have a late summer delivery; nearly 30 percent of Charlotte, N.C.'s Delmar Printing and Publishing's 1,500 annual yearbooks are delivered then. 
``What happens is that parties are held later in the summer for kids to get together to sign the books,'' says Mick McCay of Delmar. Sometimes seniors get together during Thanksgiving vacation the following fall. 
Jerel Lee, one of the school's self-proclaimed clowns and but a mere junior among lofty seniors, is handing his book around to be signed. 
``The worst thing is, is your parents want to read these things,'' he says. ``So I can't take mine home.'' 
Brad Albers grabs Lee's book. ``Okay, Brad, this is no time to get even,'' says Lee. 
A solution: Many seniors sign in the back among the advertisements where they think parents won't look. 
Some samplings: 
``David - You're a real swell guy, so stay out of trouble, Rachel. 
Tammy - Well, we made it through our senior year. I hope you have a terrific life, Love, Amy Evans F/F. 
F/F means Friends Forever. 
B/F/F means Best Friends Forever. 
B/F/A means Best Friends Always. 
B/F/A and B/F/F are the highest ratings you can get as a friend. 
But passing books around to sign them may soon be a thing of the past - yet another victim of the high-tech age. 
Jostens, tapping into the video crazy generation, has just introduced yearbook videos under the name Year Video. 

The American Dialect Society -

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