Duarte High School Finds the Key to an Innovative Yearbook Model

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Yearbook Advisor Jay Ho has turned around the yearbook program at Duarte High School, in Duarte, CA from project that was $40,000 in debt, to a project that is now creating an innovative educational experience for the school. Ho partnered with Entourage Yearbooks to offer a more economical yearbook and photography model for the school.

Duarte High School Yearbook Staff

Duarte High School Yearbook Staff

"Over the past three years we have continued to create and innovate the yearbook program. Through our partnership with Entourage Yearbooks, the debt has been paid off and are now able to invest on furthering the educational experience our journalism

When Duarte High School Yearbook Advisor, Jay Ho, took over the school yearbook four years ago, he inherited $40,000.00 of debt along with the project. "When I first took over the school's yearbook, I found out the program had been borrowing money from the school account to pay for the cost of the books," said Ho. "We had not made any profit but had been losing money for the last 10 years, $40,000 of debt to be exact." Now, while completing his fourth yearbook with the Duarte Yearbook Staff, and fourth year of partnership with Entourage Yearbooks, the Duarte Yearbook is no longer in debt.

While working with their previous yearbook company, Duarte High School wasn't able to break even on the yearbooks. The school sold them for exactly what they cost, and they weren't always able to sell all of the books.

"I realized there must be a more economical way to make a good yearbook," said Ho. He requested quotes and a sample books to ensure the quality and economic benefits of changing companies, and ultimately picked Entourage Yearbooks as the best partner for restructuring the Duarte High School Yearbook.

"Over the past three years we have continued to create and innovate the yearbook program," explained Ho. "Through our partnership with Entourage, the debt has been paid off and are now able to invest on furthering the educational experience our journalism program brings to the school."

Ho has applied the same logic to the school's photography program as well and created an innovative yearbook/photography program at the school. He realized that the school was paying a lot of money to bring in a professional photographer every year to take student portraits and team photos. Now, instead of using that budget to pay an outside vendor, Ho pours it back into the school by expanding the journalism department to include in-house photography.

"It's more cost effective," explained Ho. "For under a thousand dollars we were able to purchase two lights, 2 background choices, and a tripod." Now Ho, who has always considered photography a hobby, leads his students in taking all of the student portraits, make-up shots, as well as the candids for the yearbook.

Moving the photography program in-house creates another aspect of education in the journalism curriculum. The students are responsible for arranging picture day, operating the equipment, processing the names and pictures, and editing the images. The photography students take their responsibilities seriously especially when it comes to the editing phase. "They like to make each other look better," said Ho.

The entire school is feeling the benefits of the program. This expanding journalism program offers more opportunities for more students to get hands-on experience in journalistic and technological fields. Plus, where cost of having student portraits done was once a concern for students, the in-house photography is available to all students. "The whole school is more likely to buy a book now that they know their photo will be included," said Ho.

Ho points out that a few key components are necessary to make a project like this work successfully at the school. "Support from the school is important," said Ho. "Be as transparent as possible and make sure to include the other teachers in your plans."

Finding a supportive yearbook company was also significant to improving the quality of the program. Ho stresses the importance of finding a yearbook company that connects with the school. "We feel like Entourage Yearbooks has got our back," said Ho.

Even with the great success of the program over the past four years, Ho still has big goals for the future. He is working to improve the quality of the photography and writing in the book as well as continuing to grow the program to provide more journalistic education and opportunities to the students involved.

To learn more about Entourage Yearbooks visit their website at http://www.entourageyearbooks.com.

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Kelly Dunford
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