Summer Loving

John Cutsinger

Jostens Ambassador
John's contributions to scholastic journalism over the past 35 years have included advising award-winning yearbooks, newspapers and magazines, authoring yearbook curriculum, and sharing ideas with thousands of advisers and staffs.

You love time off and you love yearbook, so you will love the results of combining summer and yearbook.

Getting ready for the last day of school and the first day of summer requires careful planning. Before you take that deep sigh of relief in the last minute of the last day of school, flash ahead to next fall and consider what you will need to make the smoothest start possible: summer photos and stories; complete theme blueprint; and coverage-based design template ideas.


To make sure you have all the content elements you need for June-August, conduct a signed survey in the final days of May to discover your readers’ summer activities. Compile the results and make initial contact with those readers who have planned unique summer experiences. Share with sources the kind of photos and information you want for their stories: make them a free-lance reporter and photographer for the staff.

“During the summer, we worked on gathering content that we planned in the spring. Then, it was really helpful going to camp because we learned a lot about the work that goes into making the book. The workshops helped me figure out what type of quick reads I wanted to have in the book and we were able to get a head start for the upcoming year,” – Erin Ryan, West Shore Junior-Senior High School [FL] editor, said.

Ideas for Summer Coverage

Based on a spring survey, uncover potential summer coverage and make contact with readers who will have interesting stories to tell.

  • Applying/interviewing for summer jobs
  • Planning/packing for a vacation trip
  • Blowing off the last day of school
  • Graduation/end-of-year celebration parties
  • Tanning salon before beach/lake/pool time
  • Preparing for summer workshops/camps
  • Sleeping in/bumming around
  • Vacations domestic/abroad
  • Watching daytime television
  • Surviving the heat/suffering a sunburn
  • Celebrating summer birthdays/Fourth of July
  • Summer school & summer reading
  • Hanging at the lake/beach/pool/water park
  • Summer workshops & camps (school/social)
  • Individual & family vacations
  • Senior portrait appointments
  • Chores at home
  • Good jobs versus bad jobs
  • Playing club sports/off-season training
  • Suffering the first day of school
  • Back-to-school shopping (clothes/supplies)
  • Long distance post-summer friendships
  • Planning for next break/vacation


Great for rookies and seasoned advisers and staff members, a summer workshop provides not only yearbook journalism and technology training, but also the opportunity for team-building.

“The summer workshop is everything for the development of our book. In fact the first year I advised yearbook, I did not think I would pull this whole thing off until I met Sandy (the plant artist) and she drew our cover to our description. It blew me away to see our idea become a reality in the artist’s hands. Aside from the cover, the summer helped us think about who we were as a school. It allowed us to open up our eyes and our imagination in a non-stressful environment,” Susan Turner-Jones, Sierra Canyon School [CA] adviser, explained.

Ideas for Summer Pre-Workshop

Schedule a “before-the-workshop” workshop to inform your staff members and their parents of your expectations for both behavior and performance.

Suggested Topics:

  • Schedule of events
  • Travel arrangements
  • Lodging accommodations
  • Supervision
  • Behavioral agreement: representative of staff/school/self, school policy application, consequences for inappropriate behavior
  • What-to-wear list
  • Medical releases
  • Staff member special needs
  • Emergency numbers (yours & theirs)
  • Registration details & payment

Suggested Pre-Work:

  • Verbal & visual theme concepts
  • Working ladder diagram & story ideas
  • Design ideas for theme & sections
  • Preliminary projected budget


Take advantage of those spare summer times when you and your staff members can surf the web to collect both verbal and visual ideas. Compile a writer’s notebook and a designer’s inspiration collection with concepts that can be easily adapted throughout the entire year. Take a few hours at the end of summer to work with editors to set up the room and make sure all your equipment is in good working order.

“It is good to have editors come in during the summer and help get the room ready: decorating and organizing. They can make it feel like their space, and it helps them feel invested in what happens in the room. We also plan out the first few weeks of school together and divide up tasks. They are usually in charge of some ice breaker games and team building stuff early on, and then they plan their theme reveal and discussion,” according to Amy Morgan, adviser at Shawnee Mission West High School [KS].