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Plant City High’s yearbook goes high-tech for its 100th edition

PLANT CITY – Students who buy this year’s Plant City High School yearbook have more than photos on a printed page to remind them of good times on campus.

For the first time, the yearbook includes embedded videos that can be accessed with a smart phone. The clips, all 3 minutes or less, include footage from such events as the crowning of homecoming queen Cherrish Goodwine and a performance by the Raiders chorus.

Students, with the free app, can scan specified photos in the yearbook with their smartphones to access the videos.

“It’s really cool,” senior Madison Bradshaw said last week as she picked up her copy. “It adds a lot to the yearbook.”

The 296-page yearbook, of course, still includes a portrait of each of the school’s more than 2,100 students and other fodder that makes them a treasured keepsake. This year’s edition also celebrates the school’s 100th year, and includes historic photos throughout.

But the yearbook also showcases the biggest technological leap in decades.

Yearbook advisor Jennifer Hamilton and Principal Colleen Richardson first discussed the technology as Hamilton was considering becoming the advisor last summer. Both agreed to give it would open a new dimension.

“It was something that we hadn’t done before. It required a lot of planning,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton and yearbook editor Beth Pengler worked with the book’s publisher, Walsworth Yearbooks, to make it all happen.

The advisor and Pengler attended a training session in October in Orlando to learn the extra steps necessary to make the technology work.

Hamilton said her staff members enthusiastically embraced the idea. They called the yearbook, “Our Turn,” in part to reflect the mark they’ve made in school history.

“We live in a world of technology now and so many things have to do with the iPhone,” said Pengler, who is a senior.

Plant City High is the only high school in Hillsborough County to make such extensive use of videos in its yearbook, Hamilton said.

Hamilton and junior Kaylah Nelson shot most of the videos, which include both live action and slideshows of still photographs.

Pengler; advertising editor and senior Emily Peker; editor-in-training and junior Katie Loudermilk; design editor and junior Kellen Morris; and sports editor and senior Stephanie Galloway worked closely on the many tasks, including design. Journalism students also pitched in with photography and writing.

The staff hopes to sell 500 copies, which cost from $70 to $95 each, depending on the time of order.

The videos are a big draw, staff members say.

“It helps generate interest and hopefully generates more sales of the yearbook,” Loudermilk said.

The hardest part was selecting which events to shoot the videos at, Pengler said. There are dozens of events at the school each year.

“We couldn’t cover them all so we tried to get a good representation,” she said.

Some of the events, such as the prom and Relay for Life, actually took place after the yearbook’s deadline but the editors were able to embed into photos the information that links to the video. Similarly, video of the senior skit on the final day of school and valedictorian Dhara Patel’s graduation speech will be made available through the yearbook.

Hamilton, who teaches English, journalism and reading, has a longtime affection for the yearbook, which she edited in 1988 as a Plant City High student. The yearbooks in those days were designed by hand and much more time consuming.

“Now, everything is digital,” she said.

But by far, videos are the biggest advancement.

It’s been such a big hit that more videos will be part of the 2015 edition, Hamilton said.

“We plan to add events, such as sports. This has opened up a whole new world for us.”

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

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