How do I create a yearbook memorial page for a young student who passed?
February 26, 2012 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I need to create memorial page in an elementary yearbook for a student who passed away. What are some ideas to make it as meaningful and tactful as possible?

The student died suddenly in a tragic accident. Understandably it was a shock to all the student who knew him, and many parents have expressed interest in including a page dedicated to him in our yearbook (which I am responsible for).

I was thinking of including his school picture prominently in the middle of the page....with "In Loving Memory of _____" above the photo and dates "20xx - 20xx" at the bottom.

I also have access to many other photos of him growing up and such that I could use to create a "frame" around the outside of the page.

Is there something else I could a quote from the principal, school counselor, and past teachers who knew him well? Or is that too heavy for an elementary yearbook?

Perhaps adding drawings or something from his classmates (7-8 years old) - to keep it more childlike?

Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated it!
(PS - It's a public school, so religious references are out.)
posted by texas_blissful to Human Relations (8 answers total)
What about doing something a little scrapbook-y? I looked for boy's scrapbook page on Etsy and these layouts came up:

Perhaps you could model the page after one of those, maybe choosing a theme from the student's favorite things to guide your color scheme and choice of images?

I also think it would be wonderful to include his classmates in the page somehow. Maybe the kids could submit short messages that could be used as a border around the page?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:17 PM on February 26, 2012

Also, I would talk to the child's parents or their representatives before moving ahead with any page. They should have final say.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:27 PM on February 26, 2012 [15 favorites]

I think your idea to include artwork/short quotes (either from the little boy, or his friends/classmates) is a great direction to go in.
Perhaps spinning the cold/formal/very adult "In Loving Memory" into something a little more celebratory of life/approachable to children (who the yearbook is for) might be a little more intimate?
Perhaps something like: "We remember Scotty" as a heading, followed by a page filled scrapbook-style with artwork or memories submitted by the kids, and/or some of "Scotty"'s own school work, and/or photos of Scotty interacting with his friends/classmates/teachers, and participating in life?

I've always found the ["In Loving Memory" - posed, unnatural photo- "20??-20??"] format a little cold for my tastes. I prefer a memorial to be something that reminds me of who that person was in life, rather than simply reminds me of the fact of their death (but that's obviously a matter of personal taste). Since your audience is children, I think going warmer/less formal might serve your purpose better?

And yes, have the parents vet the product before inclusion.

What a tough job, I don't envy you. Good luck with it!
posted by Dorinda at 5:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Something important to consider is what will be on the facing page and the other page directly before/after. We did this in our high school yearbook, and people were REALLY upset that there was frivolous (unrelated) stuff on the facing page (something about the school cat, if I remember right). They said it was disrespectful. Even his parents were upset.

And we also screwed up in that there was actually a second student who had died that year (who didn't get a page). We hadn't realised because the first one was popular and active and died unexpectedly in a high profile car accident, while the second was shy and no one really knew him, and he died of cancer after missing most of the school year. So while it might seem unlikely, really double check that this doesn't happen to you too.
posted by lollusc at 5:51 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could give the kids an opportunity, if they like, to add a couple words of their own with things they liked about the boy or memories they had of him. One of the worst parts for a lot of people is feeling like everyone's memories of their loved one and all the random little details about them will just slip away.
posted by cairdeas at 5:51 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good points by all.
I personally know the guardian, so yes, I will definitely run it by her and see if there is something in particular she would like to include.

Dorinda...I agree, on hindsight "In Loving Memory" does sound way to formal.

I'm still trying to think of the best way to incorporate the classmates...they are so young that writing a personal message may be hard. Maybe they can each draw a stick-man type picture of themselves with their name under it and I could Photoshop them together, holding hands? With a similar but larger drawing of the student in the middle?
posted by texas_blissful at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2012

Personally, I'm not a fan of scrapbook looking anything.

I would have a nice photo of him, his school photo seems like a good idea, centred on the page with either a paragraph underneath talking about what a great kid he was and what he contributed to the class and school written by a teacher or someone who was close to him or short messages from his friends. At 7 and 8 they should be able to write a short sentence about their friend. They could be given a writing prompt like: "I liked it when Scotty..." or "One thing I will really miss about Scotty is..." The Grade 1/2 teacher at my daughter's school died last week and her students have all made cards and written notes. I think the heartfelt childishness of their words would be a comfort to the parents. It will also be nice for those kids when they get older to read something about what he meant to them at the time.
posted by looli at 11:15 PM on February 26, 2012

I think the responses here sound pretty solid. As a yearbook adviser for a middle school, I'd like to add some points which may not apply to your situation, but could be helpful to mefites who come along this question with their own circumstance at play. As lollusc mentioned, make sure you are providing equal coverage to all students who might have passed. A problem schools can face is if a student dies in an accident (such as your case) and then another student dies in a controversial way (this will obviously rarely apply to elementary kids, but it's worth thinking about) such as suicide, substance overdose, etc, will you feel comfortable giving the students equal coverage? In controversial cases, sometimes the community can feel like it's glorifying the death or that it's just too raw to focus on. Plus, what happens if one dies early in the year and gets a page, then another student dies later and a page can't be spared due to publishing deadlines? That can feel like editorializing the deaths to those who look at the book. My school adopted a policy that we'd have the school picture, name, date of birth-date of death. Very simple, but works in any and all cases no matter the circumstance. Again, this doesn't sound like it applies so much to you and elementary yearbooks are a different piece, but something to think on. Good luck to you- either way it's a sobering task to have.
posted by elliss at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2012

« Older What should the voice in my head say?   |   Lifehacker for Older Parents Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.