Poetry Is In The Air (And in Yearbooks)

April was National Poetry Month, and Entourage Yearbooks is printing more poetry than ever before!

There have been countless unforeseeable side effects of the Coronavirus pandemic (for example: did you know, that when half the town shuts down, and the only open restaurant in a four block radius is a McDonald’s, you can smell that McDonald’s from half a mile away??–and so forth), and yearbooks have experienced their fair share of unexpected snags, complications, and stumbling blocks throughout the past year.

Not all side effects are bad, though.

Like the decline in global air pollution and reduced car traffic caused by last year’s stay-at-home orders, some of the negative effects of the pandemic have yielded positive results. One such unexpected happy benefit?

Faced with the daunting task of creating all-new layouts for schools that may not have had any in-person events since March 2020, the Entourage design team got to work last fall to produce the impossible: templates for yearbooks without photos.

Pictured Right: New literature-themed templates in the EDOnline page designer. Templates were designed by Senior Assistant Account Manager Paige Connelly. Click here to access templates. Obviously, we've never had to come up with designs like this before," said Anthony Hunter, a Senior Account Manager at Entourage. “But it's like, what do you do? You can only move forward."

The plan, which Entourage named “The Start Your Project" initiative, included all-new page designs for everything from Bitmoji characters to student cars. Hunter and his team, which consisted of nine yearbook professionals, worked for two months to design over forty all-new templates for 2021.

“We knew we needed to create templates that advisors could use even if they weren't doing any in-person schooling, like most schools in California this year. So we reached out to our advisors, and we started thinking about what kind of content a school might already have," said Lauren Karol, another Senior Account Manager who worked with Hunter on the initiative.

The final design, dubbed “Lit Mag" after school literary magazines, was completed by Assistant Account Manager Paige Connelly and includes space for student poems as well as short stories. Connelly was inspired by Scandinavian minimalist graphic design when creating the layout.

“It really lets the words be the showcase while being aesthetically pleasing for the eye. I also wanted it to fit into any yearbook where the colors could be changed if they had a palette already selected," Connelly said.

While student writing has traditionally fallen under the auspices of school literary magazines–hence the template's nickname–the lack of photos caused by the Coronavirus pandemic opened up a new publication option for aspiring student authors.

Asked how she hopes schools will use the template, Connelly replied: “I hope that schools use these templates as a jumping-off point for their student authors and use the yearbook as another resource to share their creations with their school. It's always exciting to see writing on a printed page rather than a screen. This could very well be the first printed publication for a students' creation. Who knows, they might be the next big author!"

Keeping one eye in the future is a hallmark for Entourage, the “next generation" of yearbook services. “Entourage is in a unique situation." said Entourage CEO Elias Jo. “We get to see what schools are doing across the country. So we identify best practices, identify creative ideas, and we share them with our schools."

Hunter and his team did just that when coming up with the ideas for the Start Your Project initiative. The team began by reaching out to thousands of schools to request their best “Coronavirus content" ideas, then gathered those and voted on them. Each team member also added their own template idea to the list. In some cases, as with the Lit Mag template, the same designer who came up with the idea also created the final design.

As spring unfolds and schools across the country are putting the finishing touches on their yearbook designs, Hunter hopes his team's work will help advisors complete a book that may well be their most historic ever.

“In ten, twenty years when people are looking at old yearbooks, 2020 and 2021 are going to be the books they'll want to see," he said. “This is the year people will remember. We have to live up to that."

Yearbooks may not be the first source that comes to mind for student poetry, but that–like so much else–can change. Entourage Yearbooks, after all, has always been about pioneering the future of yearbooks. Sometimes, that means adding new automated features or the latest in mobile technology. Other times, it's about going back to the drawing board…literally.

Pictured Below Left: Student poetry showcase designed by FAITH Homeschool Group in Spring Lake, NC and Pictured Below (Right) Student Poetry Page by Circle of Independent Learning Charter School in Fremont, CA.