Grant funds Prism revival

Yearbook editors hope to garner student interest

by Connor Sterchi
Summer 2014

A sample page from a forthcoming Prism.

A sample page from a forthcoming Prism.

Calvin College graduates from the classes of 2010–2013 did not get the chance to receive a class yearbook. But they will soon get that opportunity, even if it is a few years late.

Prism, the official yearbook of Calvin College, was discontinued in 2010 due to lack of interest after 90 consecutive years of publication. But recent grant funding has allowed Michael Van Denend (director of alumni, parent and community relations) to revive the yearbook. The grant was designed to fund projects that will increase and diversify on-campus student employment. Van Denend thought that reinstating the student yearbook would suit that purpose.

Junior Erin Smith and sophomore Erin Barents were hired as editors for Prism. Rather than skip the previous three years, they decided to produce yearbooks for the classes of 2010–2013 before resuming yearbook production for present-day graduates.

Although the 2010–2013 class yearbooks are belated, they will not be made from a retrospective viewpoint. Smith and Barents plan to go back in time and design the yearbooks as if they were made in the graduates’ present day.

“We decided that we’re going to make it [as if] it’s 2011,” Barents said, “because 10 years from now no one is going to care that this was made three years later. We want them to look back and have it be a reflection of the year.”

But Prism won’t always be a few years behind schedule. In order to realign with the present in a couple of years, the Prism editors intend to create one yearbook during each semester for the classes of 2010–2013.

“The plan is to do an expedited [yearbook] per semester,” Smith said. “So eventually two years from now, we’ll catch up to the present and have a whole year to do the present [yearbook].”

Without the help of a currently enrolled student body, Smith and Barents are digging into past archives, records and documents in order to create a yearbook relevant and timely for those who graduated a few years ago.

“We’re figuring out what went on during those years,” Barents said. “What was new to the school, what changed, what important things we need to cover.”

“I’m going to go through every article of every Chimes issue that year to see what was happening,” Smith said. “For example, I recently found that year was the year that they stopped using trays in the dining hall, or that this artist came for SAO this year or that was the year they started doing the can food drive in the dorms again.”

But Smith and Barents have discovered that working on past yearbooks from the present has its limitations and challenges.

“Unfortunately, because we’re working in history, we can’t line up all the seniors and take their pictures,” Smith said. “If we were doing this year’s yearbook, we could hire a photographer to get the seniors’ pictures and not use their freshman Quest pictures. But we can’t exactly corral all the people who graduated in 2011 and take their pictures.”

The main sections of the yearbook will include class pictures, student life, events, sports, student organizations and clubs.

The yearbook editors hope to garner student interest for Prism so that it will be profitable and unlikely to discontinue in the near future.

“The goal is to make it self-sustaining,” Smith said. “We have this grant money to kick-start it this year, but hopefully through sales this year it can fund itself. Part of what is really important for us is not only editing and publishing but also a heavy component of marketing, because in order to continue this project beyond this year and not have it die again, we have to do really good marketing and make it appealing so that it will be able to fund itself.”

Used with permission from Chimes