My freshman son came home the other day with his first high school yearbook. It’s beautifully bound and is as thick as an encyclopedia (not that he would know what that is because he’s grown up always looking things up on the internet). It has glossy pages filled with color photographs of smiling teenagers. The price tag for this year’s edition was nearly $100.
Is it worth it?
When I was in middle school, the school asked those of us on the yearbook staff to vote on our choice for yearbooks — printed on-campus and stapled together for about $12 or professionally bound for a whopping $25 at the time. At the meeting, the principal shared with us some words of wisdom: “We know the school year memories are really important to you now, but in a few more years they won’t matter so much. You probably shouldn’t spend too much money on something like this.” We didn’t really agree with him but our parents sure did. Given the choice between getting a slim, cheap yearbook for which our parents would pay versus an expensive one for which they would not, the decision was easy. A majority of my classmates were in the same predicament, so the vote was cast in favor of the in-house, stapler-bound middle school yearbook. I just remember this fiasco, because my artwork happened to end up on the front cover of this very yearbook.
We hated to admit it at the time, but our middle school principal was right. The precious 8th grade year book lost its luster only 12 months later when I got my first high school yearbook. I think I paid (or, more accurately, my parents did) nearly $60 for this memory book, thick with glossy pages and professional binding. The photos were great, but the autographs were more important. “You’re really cool. Have a bitchin’ summer and see you next fall,” signed almost every single one of my friends. I guess we weren’t all that creative back then. I still have my high school yearbooks for all four years somewhere in my closet, but I no longer possess the middle school yearbook in spite of the fact that I was the cover artist.
School year is ending in just a couple of days, and my son is upstairs poring over the pages, already reminiscing the various activities he was involved in last fall and looking forward to his sophomore year starting next fall. He will probably continue to look at this yearbook with fond memories in the years and maybe decades to come. I took a peek at some of the autographs he’s gotten from his friends, and they all seem to appreciate Joshua’s humor, his prodigious trumpet playing, and his kindness. He is a good friend to a variety of students, and I would imagine that reading notes from these friends will encourage him to continue pursuing his musical and social skills. I suppose that’s just as important as keeping memories of high school activities alive in these pages.
So maybe, just maybe, it is worth paying upwards of $100 (or more, I’m sure, for some schools) for my kids’ yearbooks.
But does it have to be so expensive? And what happens two years from now when both of my kids are at the same high school? Should I buy one and have them share or get a separate one for each? Please let me know in the comments below.
Meanwhile, have a bitchin’ summer and see you next fall…