It’s another award-winning year for the Thomas Dale yearbook staff. Adding to their already-impressive roster of awards is the All-American distinction from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), an honor that “almost requires a perfect book,” according to yearbook adviser and English teacher Scott Young.
The NSPA evaluates yearbooks in five content areas: concept, theme, photography, design, and writing. “They give you marks of distinction if you’re rated excellent in those five categories,” says Young. “We received the highest marks possible. [To get All-American,] you have to have 2,700 points – we had 4,100, so we received the highest marks of distinction in all categories.”
The yearbook’s theme was “Breaking Through,” a spinoff of last year’s centennial yearbook. “We were breaking into the next century of the school, so we used a combination of visuals and a play on words with the idea of breaking through,” Young explains.
About 30 students were part of this year’s yearbook staff, a fairly low number for the size of the finished yearbook: 364 pages, which makes it the largest in the school’s history. “We had to purchase extra signatures – blocks of pages – in order to fit all of the material!” says Young. He is proud of the way the students worked together, noting, “It was extremely smooth this year. I think that after having so many years in a row, we know what to do.” He’s also very pleased with the way the final product turned out, and praises the book’s photography as one of its most outstanding assets. “The photography was outstanding, and everything tied together extremely well,” he says.
The talent of the student staff and of Young, who’s worked as yearbook adviser for six years, is evident in the number of awards they’ve racked up over their five-year winning streak. In addition to this year’s award, they’ve won the Virginia High School League’s Trophy Class Award, the Southern Interscholastic Press Association’s All-Southern Award, the Columbia Press Gold Medalist award, and a First Place with Merit from the American Scholastic Press Association. This year is the first year they’ve made All-American with the NSPA, but they’ve also won a First Class with Three Marks of Distinction in past years.
“We’ve had a really good run,” Young says. “We’ve maintained the highest level through all these years consecutively.”
Thanks to the school’s successes over the years, Young will be given a special longevity award in October at a Virginia High School League ceremony. The award is a fitting coda to Young’s career at Thomas Dale, as the 2008-2009 year was his last as yearbook adviser. “I’m sad to be leaving the yearbook staff, but I’m excited to embark on a new chapter of my life,” he says.
Young also knows that he’s leaving the school on a high note, thanks to their latest NSPA win. “It’s fantastic,” he says. “This was our highest award for this particular judging, and Thomas Dale has never received it before.”
It remains to be seen how the Thomas Dale yearbook staff will top this year’s edition, but if their track record is any indication, the 2009-2010 yearbook will be sure to reap a new crop of awards for the school.