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Area schools earn state honors for yearbook work

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Earning All-Kansas distinction for her school's yearbook is old hat for Vicki Constable at Phillipsburg High School.

Phillipsburg's "The Panther," under the direction of Constable, joined two other area yearbooks as three of 21 All-Kansas yearbooks for 2012.

The other two are Hays High School's "Indian Call" in Class 5A and Ellis High School's "The Railroader" in Class 2A. Phillipsburg's book was one of four honored this year in Class 3A. There also were four honored in 5A and three in 2A.

The books are judged, and assigned one of three rankings, in five categories -- concept, coverage, reporting, photography and design -- and have to receive the highest (All-Kansas) area in at least three of those categories to earn All-Kansas distinction for the book.

It's the first All-Kansas award for an Indian Call since 2001 and the first under adviser Bill Gasper, in his ninth year at Hays High.

However, it's the third All-Kansas award in four years for an HHS publication. The school's newspaper, the Guidon, also was honored as an All-Kansas winner in 2009 and '10.

For Ellis, it was the first All-Kansas yearbook since 2006, and like Gasper at Hays High, the first for Ellis adviser Jill Wood, who has taught at Ellis since 2007.

Constable -- well, she has lost count of her book's All-Kansas awards. She is more concerned with maintaining a tradition of excellence she started in 1975 and has been going on for more than 35 years.

"It's a goal every year," Constable said of winning the state's highest honor for "The Panther."

"We want to do well because it's covering history, want it to be well-balanced," she said. "Coaches and records come and go, and most of the time there are no records of what happened except in the yearbook. So you want these facts to be correct for someone down the road."

Wood agreed.

"I tell them, 'Kids, you're not writing this book for next year; you're writing it for 20 years out of high school,' " she said. "You have to find something unique for this year."

That word "unique" was a common thread among the advisers of the area winners.

"I tell them to look for one particular element and use the pictures and captions to tell the story of the year," Gasper said. "Like, 'What was unique about the football season? Not that they just went 10-4 but what was one thing about the season you will want people to remember years later?' "

Wood said "what makes the All-Kansas award so much sweeter" is the fact she had only seven staff members at Ellis last year.

"It's such an accomplishment because they put so much hard work into it," Wood said. "You look at these pages until you think you never want to see them again and you open it when it comes in and say, 'Wow!' "

Wood said there is something even more important than the satisfaction of putting out a good yearbook or earning awards she hopes the students are able to take with them when they graduate.

"One of the neatest things, I think," she said, "is the relationship you build with the kids and with each other."