MARQUETTE - Like many students, Alayna Foran can't wait to get her hands on the 2011 high school yearbook.
But in stark contrast to most of those students, she wants to see the book so she can judge the fruit of her labors. The senior at Ishpeming High School has spent the last nine months of her life working tirelessly on "The Hematite," the school's yearbook.
"I would say I worked on it two hours, three nights a week," said Foran, the editor-in-chief of the yearbook staff. "That was the most I could do (outside of school)."
Ishpeming High School yearbook staff from left, Michael Perrault, Katie Johns, Alina Karuzas and Beth Tutor take notes during a recent meeting. (Journal photo by Kyle Whitney)
After factoring in weekly one-hour staff meetings and her daily guided study session, Foran - who also holds down two jobs outside of school - spent more than 12 hours per week working on the 120-page book.
Ishpeming teacher and yearbook adviser Corey Stiles has worked at Ishpeming High School for 11 years and has been involved in student newspapers and yearbooks for 13 years.
Stiles said that as social networking and communications technology advance, consumers demand a more integrated product, even from the high school yearbook.
"It's almost as though we're doing it all. Everyone wants it in that one package," he said. "It's a little bit a sign of the times. I think the students want to have that (whole package). They don't just want to see the picture anymore, they want to hear the story."
In response to that demand, yearbook staffs have become more diverse. Foran said she had roughly 20 people working below her, including a business manager, a layout editor, a writing editor, a trio of staff photographers and a number of people who wrote stories and worked on layout.
Annually, the entire process starts near the end of the previous school year, when positions are decided for the coming year's staff. After brainstorming, a theme is devised for the yearbook, typically by August. This year's theme was "transcend."
Then the staff members spend months writing, shooting photos and laying everything out.
"All of it kind of flows together," Foran said. "Every week, I would have a set agenda and it would have the pages that needed to be assigned to the different staff members."
One aspect of the production that is rarely discussed, though, according to Stiles, is the cost. The Ishpeming yearbook is a $12,000 production that is unaffiliated with any other school programs. Each book is full-color and costs $55 to produce, yet sells for no more than $45 a piece.
Stiles said strong advertisement revenue has kept the group from running a deficit during his tenure, but acknowledged that it gets more challenging each year.
"The last three years, it has been very difficult to stretch funds from anywhere," he said. "Even if you are selling it for less than you're making it for, that's still $45 for parents that are buying caps and gowns and paying to play sports."
But when Foran recently received the cover of the book - the pages haven't even printed yet - months of hard work and worry paid off.
"It hasn't been distributed, so I haven't really seen it yet," she said. "But I've seen the cover, and even that was crazy."
She hopes all the time she has put in - she has been a part of the staff for three years - continues to pay off beyond high school, when she will enroll in classes at Northern Michigan University.
"I like putting stuff together, creatively. I really enjoy it and I want to pursue something in that field," she said.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.