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Schools

Chronicling a year

The Mitchell High staff knows their book will get a national award; they don't yet know how big.

By MICHELE MILLER
Published February 1, 2006


NEW PORT RICHEY - Take a gander through The Ripple Effect and there's little doubt the 2005 J.W. Mitchell High School yearbook is one that will be thumbed through and treasured for years to come.

The book, at least a couple of inches thick, is chock-full of pictures and prose that scan a year of memories - not only at school, but also within the local community.

Putting it together was a laborious effort for students who have to apply to be in the class just as they might a job. There are long hours and the expectation of putting forth a good team effort.

"It's stressful," said Angie Murphy, yearbook adviser. "There's a high workload - lots of deadlines to meet. This is a special group of kids. They have to be motivated."

The dedication and hard work paid off for Murphy and her diligent staff of students when they were recently notified that their yearbook was named a 2006 Crown Finalist by the Columbia (University) Scholastic Press Association.

"It's the biggest award Columbia gives," said Murphy who will be presented with the award - either gold or silver - at the the national convention to be held in March in New York City.

Only 32 school yearbooks nationwide made the cut. Mitchell High was the only Florida high school to receive the honor.

The prestigious award is just another feather in Murphy's cap. For five years the yearbook has landed in the Walsworth Publishing Co.'s "Gallery of Excellence." The yearbook also earned a Gold Medalist rating for two years from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and twice received the All American Award from the National Scholastic Press Association.

Those kudos are the result of a collaborative effort headed by a teacher who runs the class like a business.

When Murphy took the job when the school opened in 2000, she had five students and one computer. Now about 150 students apply each year for 28 coveted spots on the yearbook staff. This year the class boasts 15 computers and two digital cameras - all bought with money the class has generated from yearbook and advertising sales.

Murphy oversees eight editors, many who give up some days during summer break to work on the yearbook. Those accepted into the class also attend a weeklong summer workshop in Orlando.

Students are required to take on all facets of the job - writing, photography, selling ads, doing layouts, interviewing students and faculty, and helping others who might be having difficulty meeting their own deadlines. The yearbook staff also produces the senior slide show, a video yearbook and the senior supplement that features senior prom, spring break and other events that happen after the final deadline.

All while working toward the goal to have all 2,500 students plus faculty appear in the yearbook's candid photos at least once and not more than twice.

"I knew it was going to be work, but not that much," said new staff member, 14-year-old Trevor Williams, who last week was working on student profiles with Katelyn Tugwell, 16. "It's overwhelming sometimes - meeting deadlines, trying to find good quotes, tracking down students."

"It's chaotic," said 17-year-old Crystal Daniel, who shares editor in chief duties with Kaylee Stark, 18. "Standing from the outside it might look like fun but it's a lot of work. Just when you finish one deadline another one comes up. Sometimes they overlap."

Still, said Stark, "It's an amazing thing when you see the yearbook. It's so worth the time we put in after school and all that running around just to get a quote."

"To get that award was beautiful," she said. "Now there's a lot of pressure to get that award again this year - to leave the same mark the editors left last year."

[Last modified February 1, 2006, 01:04:14]


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