Northwood Elementary School’s decision to cease yearbook publication has concerned at least a couple of parents who see the annual as a household staple.
The leadership committee that lowered the axe, facing budget cuts and rising production costs, said there was no other choice. Many households, facing sequestration and other budget crises, can’t afford a copy.
Call me old-fashioned, but it’s hard to imagine a rainy day or some occasion when boredom or the need for nostalgia arises and you can’t go into the closet, burrow through old boxes and find that earliest version of a face book.
Some will say, “Well, you have your memories.” But is that true?
Looking at old photos can call up more memories than usual because your brain doesn’t need the excess for everyday living.
A fifth-grade yearbook reminds me of a girl absentmindedly rubbing an uncapped ink pen against her Oxford shirt while listening to a class lecture. I’m transported to 1994, and smile as the teacher interrupts the class to alert her that she ruined her shirt. Then I laugh and think, “Why is that the first memory that comes to mind?”
I stop cold upon glimpsing a fellow Boy Scout who died that year from an accidental gunshot while hunting. The Kenny Chesney song comes to mind. “Who would he be today?” I wonder.
Upon seeing the elderly afterschool care staff, some who have passed, I’m struck by the feeling of deep admiration that starkly contrasts a child’s attitude about grown-ups who could punish you if you get in trouble.
Across the country, the yearbook is dying. Electronic yearbooks and social media like Facebook are the supposed replacements.
But is that shortsighted?
They say that once something hits cyberspace, it’s there forever. However, I can think of several dotcoms that were riding high before dying. While printed products can endure for generations in boxes on shelves, where no one can touch them, a webhost can cut the cord — literally — and it’s over.
Some companies, like TreeRing, have capitalized on the concern, printing personalized yearbooks at no cost to schools, with no minimum order requirements. The company’s website says it will even plant a tree for each book ordered. It seems like an ideal option for cash-strapped schools.
Locally, two Northwood teachers stepped up and created memory books for their third-graders.
Hats off to you, Erin Adams and Paige Parker. It’s this editor’s opinion that yearbooks are an integral part of the school experience.
They remind us to laugh, cry and reflect on the past.