What Do You Remember About Yearbook Day?

Last year, a few days before school ended, Tech received his yearbook. A person involved in several extracurricular activities, he was frustrated when he only appeared in only one photograph – the same individual photograph that we had purchased earlier in the year. This appeared alphabetically amidst a sea of faces.

I tried to soothe my son’s bruised ego by pointing out how tiny the thumbnails were and how difficult it was to see anyone.

He shrugged.

“Anyway, the autographs are the best part!” I flipped through the pages of his book. “Did you get any?”

Tech’s 6th grade year book.

Tech turned to the back of his yearbook where I was surprised to see that kids did not write in sentences as my friends had when we were his age. Instead, they simply penned their names. To be fair, my son collected mainly boys’ signatures last year, so I wondered if maybe it was a gender thing: perhaps 6th grade boys were inclined to communicate their feelings in words less well than girls of the same age.

[For example, someone penned “FAGS,” instead of "HAGS" -- an acronym for “Have A Good Summer” -- causing one teacher to haul out smiley-face stickers to cover up his unfortunate and oft-repeated abbreviation.]

Later, a friend and I compared notes.  She has daughters, and I was curious to see if 6th grade girls did things differently, but no, I found very much the same kind of thing. Kids just signed their names, sans niceties. I was looking for some kind of: “It was nice meeting you this year”; or “Have a nice summer”; even “Your (sic) a grate (sic) kid.”

Most surprising was that three of my son’s teachers had elected to pre-print their names on Avery stickers. I understand it is tedious to write out one’s name 125 times, but pre-printed stickers? Really? Only the music teacher wrote my son a personal note and took the time to scribble out his signature in his own hand.

So I was interested to see how things would play-out a year later.

This year, on the last day of 7th grade, approximately 3.3 minutes before he had to walk out the house, Tech pulled his backpack over his shoulder and announced, “Oh, we got our yearbooks.”

He was out the door before I had a chance to ask him if he landed in any photographs besides the tiny thumbnail. That night, we flipped through his yearbook together. He was in a few extra pictures but the autographs had changed!

Tech’s 7th grade yearbook.

For the most part, the 7th grade boys are still pretty hapless.

But.

I did see several nice, handwritten notes from teachers recognizing Tech’s hard work this year.

Which was nice.

And I couldn’t help but notice a few more signatures by people with names that certainly sounded feminine.

And some of these notes were composed in actual sentences.

Someone with curly handwriting penned in purple ink:

“I can’t wait to see you when you come home from summer camp. Maybe we can hang out.”

Hmmmmm.

So I know my son has discovered girls, but does he realize that a few girls may have discovered him?

What do you see in your kids’ yearbooks? What do you remember about yearbook day?

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45 responses to “What Do You Remember About Yearbook Day?

  1. On yearbook day, I’m always trying to think of something different to say for each student. It does get difficult, but I do try. And every year I give the lecture about how what goes in the yearbook becomes one’s history — does my student want to be the one who is remembered for putting FAGS (or worse) in every kid’s yearbook? I loved this post!

    • Thanks! And thanks for NOT being one of those teachers who pre-prints her “personalized messages” on Avery stickers. I understand that makes life easier, but nothing is better than a hand-written note from a teacher you really like. I still cherish my yearbooks. And because I am a dork, I still look at them all the time.

  2. i always remember lecturing my students before they got their yearbooks in order to remind them that if i see any yearbook with profanity written in it, then the person who wrote it will have their yearbook taken away until they bring in money so that the person who now has profanity written in their book can buy a new one.

  3. I know I’m a bit daft, but I just realized your son and my younger daughter are the same age. Shall we go ahead and arrange the marriage?

    Tech’s yearbook sounds pretty similar to my daughter’s – but of course most of her autographs are from girls, which are decidedly different. However, they are still much shorter and more generic than those found in my eldest’s high school yearbooks, which is probably a good thing. At least that gives us something to look forward to :-)

  4. We were not nearly cool enough to have yearbooks in middle school – but I still have my high school ones sitting on a shelf. I was amazed at how oblivious I was to boys “advances” when I read things now. A couple of guys wrote really sweet, lovey, uncharacteristically sensitive things in my yearbook. And I was all like, “aww, we’re the bestest of friends!”

    My parents were probably grateful for my naivete.

    I had the “look, I signed your crack” geniuses, too.

    Oh and the “2 good + 2 be = 4 gotten” stuff. Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeesy. :)

    • Amber: I know what you mean about looking back at those yearbooks now and realizing: “Omigosh, I think that dude kind of liked me.” I didn’t see it either. Meanwhile, as we all now know, no boy aspires to be any girl’s “bestest of friends.” That is a trainwreck wrapped in heartache.

  5. I don’t know Yearbook Day real well, but it seem like a cool day. Have a great summer!

    I love, as a teacher, getting the yearbook from a student open to a page to sign, and right next to it is, “Hey, super-slut! Let’s get damaged at the lake and score some hotties! Jager-bomb, bitch!” And I have to say, “Uh, this is called advanced planning. Maybe find me a different page?”

  6. HAa,
    so true. One of the kids from our school gave me his year book to sign and was utterly shocked that I didn’t just put my name!
    Omgg, when I went to school, my girlfriends wrote an ENTIRE page of great stuff! Ahh, those were the days.
    Xxx

    • Kim: Like you, I remember scribbling all over the place. I’d start on page 34 and at the bottom write “continued on page 87.” Then, I’d write all along page 87 and at the bottom, I’d write “continued on page 106.” I’d go like that forever! We all so loved to write back then. I worry that kids don’t LOVE to write the way we did. My yearbooks are treasures. Seriously.

  7. Gutenberg didn’t invent the printing press until I was a sophomore in high school, so that was my first year book – or annual, as we called them. We mostly wrote crazy stuff in one another’s books, but I treasure what my American History teacher wrote in my senior annual. She was a very erudite and proper lady, and she mistakenly wrote the word “crisises” in her comment. As she handed it back to me, she realized what she’d done and begged me to give it back to her so she could correct it, but I told her I was keeping it as a treasure.

  8. I love reading the signatures in my kids yearbooks! And the pre-printed stickers… lame! Funny story, when I was in elementary school we had what were called autograph books, no pictures, just pages for people to sign their names and wishes. Well, the 16th page (if I remember correctly) was where you had the person who you had a crush on sign. So in fifth grade I had this girl sign the 16th page, then I got embarrassed about it so I made a rash decision and tore it out. Of course this caused the 17th page to become the 16th page and so on and so on. It became very complicated. I don’t remember how I resolved this…

  9. Stickers!?!?! FOR SHAME. Now I’ve heard everything.

    Love the note from the girl . . . digs him for sure.

    • You heard it here, teachers. And I didn’t even say it. But.. um.. yeah. Pre-printed labels. Lame. Totally lame. At any grade. That’s why I smeared out the names. So the school wouldn’t get all over me.

      As far as the note from the girl goes, I KNOW Tech would not want me to comment on his personal life. So I won’t SAY anything. ;-)

      I’ll just mime it out for you.

      *She’s really cute.*

  10. We didn’t have yearbooks before 7th grade when I was growing up, so I never experienced having only names. I did have to deal with a few people who insisted on “signing my crack,” and I learned which girls to avoid giving the book to because they could say nothing better than “stay just as sweet as you are,” indicating they knew me about as well as I knew quantum mechanics.

    • I always hated those pat responses. I must say, looking back at the things people wrote to me during my high school years, folks were really thoughtful, kind and original. As I recall I was kind of a bitch. So either people were scared of me and trying to suck up, or I wasn’t as bitchy as I think I was.

      I’m going with door #2.

  11. Seriously! Stickers?! That’s like the holiday cards with the family name stamped inside and nothing else. (I had to blog about that atrocity once.) Why bother!

    Glad he got some more meaningful notes this year, and Miss Purple Curly-Cue has good taste!

    Back in my day…people wrote SOMETHING! Oh gawd. What do you think blogging will look like in another 10 years? Just people’s banners?

    • Back in my day, we dipped our pens into the inkwells and scribbled for hours. It was in and out, in and out until the well ran dry. Good times. IYKWIM. ;-)

      In ten years, we’ll probably just have to touch some part of our bodies and think our messages which will then be telepathically received by the intended recipient. I call belly-button.

  12. I loved Yearbook Day. My kids, on the other hand, don’t even get yearbooks, and they make an effort to avoid having their photos taken for publication anywhere. Sheesh!

  13. In my high school, an entire day was devoted to yearbooks. There was a celebration for the seniors and a video presentation of the dedication, and usually some form of entertainment. Then at 10:30am, assembly was dismissed and the students were free to flock the cafeteria at their pleasure, or go home early if they wanted. There were never any classes that day.

    Sadly, this tradition which EVERYONE looked forward to ALL YEAR no longer exists because many of the teachers and board members were growing more and more offended by the antics of the seniors. Personally, I think both parties (teachers and seniors) were in the wrong here, but it no longer affects me – I was just sad my younger brother could not have the same experience as me.

    But that’s a blog entry in itself!

    I always took the time to write a personal note, and 85% of my peers and teachers did as well. The Avery stickers bit makes me a little sad… it just feels very detached and if you are asking someone for a signature, chances are you want to remember that person because you liked or respected them.

    Ah, c’est la vie.

    Good luck with those pesky girls!

    • I remember yearbook day like you do. We had all day to come to school and sign yearbooks. It was great. I’m not surprised to hear that tradition has croaked. With all the testing teachers have to get through, they just don’t have the luxury of time the way we did in the 1980s.

      But you are waaaay younger than me, right?

      And yeah, those Avery stickers blew chunks.

  14. Ricky Anderson

    I’ve looked back, but rarely. Last time was to find the girls I used to find hot and thank G-d he didn’t answer my prayers!

  15. Hey Renee! I wanted to write this yesterday, but life got in the way! Thankfully, the yearbook signing improves as the years move forward, but middle school is a time of really awkward discovery. I was sad to read about the teachers who had labels to place in yearbooks, they are the probably the same teachers we can’t remember. I don’t remember any yearbook signings form my youth – I have two yearbooks from HS and two from college and the signing pages are pretty empty. I wrote about the issue last year before school let out – here is the post…. http://makingthedayscount.org/2011/06/05/sunday-morning-and-t-minus-2/ …. Kids are kids and they haven’t really started to THINK just yet, but wait it’s coming!

    • Well that is encouraging, but if you look a few posts down uou’ll see a completely different thing. I don’t know what the future holds when it comes to producing these expensive petroleum based yearbooks. Tech’s was $36 smackers. He paid for it himself. I wasn’t coughing up the dough after last year’s lame display. But he wanted one.

  16. Someone put “I hope your dreams come true” in my yearbook and it was a beautiful sentiment. Many of my dreams have come true, too. Like my dream of being writer.
    I love the way you put things and always enjoy your posts!!

  17. Coleen Patrick

    Yearbook day was HUGE to me, but neither of my kids (both in h.s.) care all that much about it. In fact my rising senior still has yet to buy one. I asked her at the end of this year–surely you’re going to want a senior yearbook, right? She just shrugged. My son did get a yearbook, but absolutely didn’t want anyone to sign it. I don’t get it. It makes me wonder if it’s because FB fills that void??

    • See? This is everything I fear! They aren’t writing to teach other anymore. Not intimately. I hope this is just a stage, but I have my doubts. I think withbFB and texting and twitter, they never have to say goodbye. Or use proper grammar. Lol. And nothing is permanent. It can all be deleted. Le sigh. I wonder if my son will ever receive a proper love note. Or write one.

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