A team of students and staff are designing a new and improved yearbook for the class of 2009, based on the theme “Expressions of Memories”. The changes made this year affect all aspects of the yearbook. This will be the first time that the yearbook has used a coherent theme, due in part to the fact that the organization of the yearbook committee has been vastly re-worked.

The first change involved implementing a rigorous selection process, which aimed to find only students with previous yearbook experience. This year, committee members will be paid for their work, which editors hope will lead to more commitment and energy in the yearbook project. The committee will work with both student and professional photographers, as well as student writers. Editor-in-Chief Luz Burgos ‘09, Layout Editor Allison Kung ’09 and Assistant Editor Matias Seijas ’11 are heading a committee of 13 to create a yearbook substantially different from past years.

“We are looking for people who are motivated and just want something to get done,” Burgos said.

WSA Office Coordinator Lisa Hendrix, who serves as the yearbook advisor, applauded the enthusiasm shown by this year’s staff.

“Our contract with our old publisher and photography company ended in 2008,” she said. “This presented the perfect opportunity to make some key changes to improve the quality of the yearbook and try to evoke and renew the enthusiasm and spirit that Wesleyan conveys…this year’s group has a clear vision and know[s] exactly what they’re doing with their book.”

Taking hints from other schools’ yearbooks, the University yearbook committee will be creating something totally distinct from past editions. Last year, for instance, the yearbook contained 144 pages, only 32 of which were in color. The new yearbook will have 176 pages in full color, and will also include a table of contents and an index. The most prominent difference will be the presence of the theme.

“From when you [first] open the book, you are going to have an explanation of the theme,” said Burgos. “Expression [is] very flexible and you can mold it to various aspects of the class.”

The yearbook will be divided into eight sections, each centered on a different form of expression. “Expressions of Celebration” will feature the year’s cultural celebrations, political celebrations, and academic celebrations. “Expressions of Endurance” will highlight athletics in the class of 2009. “Expressions of Support” will be the section devoted to parents’ ads and various Middletown vendors.

“There is a beginning, a middle and an end [in the yearbook], and there is a connection [stemming from] when students first arrive on campus,” Burgos said. “There is a journey.”

The committee’s goal is to reach the entire class as a community. According to Burgos, the new yearbook will represent the class as a whole, not just those within a certain social circle.

“Yeah, there are parties here, but there are people that don’t [go to parties], and we want them in here too,” Burgos explained.

The yearbook committee is trying to create more awareness on campus, advertising through alumni relations and on the Internet. Examples include the committee’s website, which will also show yearbooks dating back to the 1800s; it currently reaches back to 2002. There is also Facebook group called “Olla Podrida – The Wesleyan Yearbook”, which posts yearbook events and updates.

The yearbook committee has also made an effort to find new advertisers; 51 Middletown businesses will be advertising in the 2009 yearbook. They also expect higher sales because of the increased community outreach. In the past, only about 330 yearbooks were sold to a class nearly 750 students. The committee hopes to sell between 400 and 500 yearbooks this year.

“Hopefully the revenue that we use from this will help beef up the yearbook,” Kaplan said.

The staff is thinking not only of the class of 2009, but is trying to make the yearbook more prominent on campus for future classes. According to Burgos, the staff hopes that their extensive array of changes will carry through to future additions. As a way to build that foundation, the committee is planning to hold a contest for the class of ’10 to find a theme for next year’s yearbook, which they hope will lead juniors to become more involved with the yearbook, possibly as staff next year.

“We are organizing as we go and laying the foundation for years to come,” Burgos said.

According to Burgos, underclassmen of all years are encouraged to join, because it will help mold groups who will carry on this new vision of the future. At the same time, the yearbook committee hopes to include everyone in this year’s graduating class, which would be a precedent

“This is the start of something new at [the University],” Kaplan said. “In the future, my hope is that [the yearbook] will be a much bigger deal than it has in the past.”

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