By Kim Walter
STEPHENS CITY - Sherando High School's 2012-2013 yearbook staff members have somehow managed to one-up last year's publication of the "Tribe."
Last year, the yearbook implemented the use of QR codes, which can be scanned using a smartphone app that will directly link to video or other type of media. This year, the QR codes can still be found flipping through the book, but the cover is what sets this issue of the yearbook apart from the rest.
Sherando English teacher and yearbook adviser Trevor Johnson said he heard of new technology from Walsworth Yearbooks, a company the school has long worked with.
"My buddy there told me about this new Yearbook 3D app, but it probably wouldn't be ready until next year," Johnson said Thursday morning. "But I know what these students are capable of, so I said, 'How about this year?'"
The technology comes at a perfect time, as 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Sherando's opening.
Looking at the cover, one sees something simple: The silver book is adorned with a picture of the school's mascot, a warrior. The picture is almost the same as that which covered Sherando's first yearbook in 1993.
But by taking out a smartphone and using the free Yearbook 3D app, the warrior comes to life with a wink.
The animation then transitions to a video of the mascot riding a horse onto Sherando's football field as the school band plays its Warrior cadence in the background. Below the video, images of all 20 yearbook covers roll by.
Johnson said Walsworth worked closely with the yearbook staff to get the timing between the pictures and music as close to perfect as possible.
With the yearbook coming out on Friday, Sherando students will be one of only three schools in the country to enjoy the custom animation cover.
Alexis English and Ariel Desser, both 18 and headed to James Madison University in the fall, were able to take experiences from last year's yearbook and use them to their advantage this year.
English said that every year they want to do something special, "something to set us apart.
"This year obviously meant even more to us since we're graduating," English said.
Dresser said they knew it would be a lot of hard work.
"We're both really proud of this one. It puts Sherando on the map," Desser said after watching one of the videos that accompanied a page devoted to varsity football.
Even though Desser recognized that technology always will be a part of yearbook production, she said she hopes that the physical print copy will remain.
"Yearbooks need to represent what the year meant to the student body, and since technology is advancing so quickly, why not incorporate that and show how things are changing around us," she said. "But I'll never want yearbooks to just be online. These are memories that are supposed to last forever, and I'll always want a book to look back on."
English hopes the innovation will get more students to purchase a yearbook, since the price can be an issue.
"I want them to get their money's worth," she said. "I mean, they expect the portraits, the pages, but this is an extra draw to really get people excited."
Johnson explained that the average life of a yearbook adviser is about three years, but he's been at it for 17.
"I understand how advisers can get burnt out, but the reason I stay is because of them," he said, looking around at the staff. "They jumped right on board when I brought them the new idea. There was no hesitation."
Though he wonders how the yearbook can improve even more in the coming years, he said the staff will keep trying.
Meagan Arnold, a 17-year-old junior and videographer, said that when she got into filming in eighth grade, she wasn't sure how it could fit in with putting together a yearbook. But now that the two have merged, "they won't stray away."
Arnold did everything from shooting, to editing to putting together the QR codes on the pages. She said she loves seeing students gathered around a yearbook enjoying her videos.
"This book is like my baby," she said, smiling. "I work on it all year and no one can see any of it, but once they do ... that's the best part."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org