40 years from now

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Monday, we welcomed high school students from across the state for the Jostens All In Yearbook Workshop. Students attended workshops on design, photography, headline writing and storytelling.

Today, they left campus with a new set of skills in their toolbox to tackle their school’s yearbook in the coming school year. They also left with something a little less tangible — a greater sense of story and what it means to be a part of a yearbook staff.

Tomorrow, I sit down to construct the ladder — the blueprint of content — for the Petit Jean, Harding’s yearbook. The construction of the ladder is a catalyst to the greater task that is to come.

Too often, I feel like people don’t understand the significance of a yearbook. Sure, it’s a neat book to look through to find yourself and your friends or to find pictures of your social club winning the club basketball championship. But there is something greater to a yearbook than simply pictures and words on pages. It’s what those elements work together to create.

As I’ve thought about what I want the 2016-17 Petit Jean to reflect, one idea has made itself home in my mind. It’s not an idea of what I want the design or photos to look like or how I want the headlines written and formatted. It’s an idea that I hope 40 years from now someone will appreciate.

It’s the idea that in 40 years, when someone is trying to compile a list of Homecoming musicals or find pieces to document Dr. Bruce McLarty’s presidency, they’ll look at the Petit Jean that my staff has created and be impressed — impressed that we thought 40 years in advance and with that made deliberate and well-thought out choices on what Harding’s story is going to be for that year.

Because 40 years from now, no one is going to remember off the top of their head which professor won a national award for their research or which social club took home the Spring Sing sweepstakes award. But what they are going to do is look to the Petit Jean.

My staff and I have the greatest task — to document Harding’s story for 2016-17. That task involves decisions about what to include in Harding’s history and how we tell that story. It’s not a task to be taken lightly, and it’s not a task that we’ll take for granted. It’s that task these high school students on campus this week take to heart, too.

Monday, those students came to campus to learn.

Today, they leave ready to document the history of their school.

And 40 years from now, we’ll all look back on our books and be pleased with what we’ve done because it’s more than just pages, paper and photographs. It’s a story about the place we love. For the Petit Jean staff and me, that’s Harding. And that’s perhaps one of the greatest things we’ll do while we’re here.

Kaleb Turner, Petit Jean editor-in-chief

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