Registration fees this year at Marc Garneau were noticeably less, with students only needing to pay twenty dollars plus Winterfest fees, down more than fifty percent from last year’s hefty charge of fifty dollars. But these cuts didn’t come without a price. Students are no longer being provided with a TDSB agenda, nor a school yearbook in June (without additional cost).Reactions to the removal of a mandatorily-bought yearbook ran all across the board, from the conspiracy-theorists (“It was cut ’cause Mrs. Goldenberg thought it sucked”) to the celebratory, (“Thank god! I didn’t want that stuff anyways”), to the uncaring (“I don’t even go to this school, who the hell are you”). No one really knew why the yearbook was no longer being pushed to all students.
Luckily The Reckoner sent out our very own investigative team. We contacted Mr. Welch, the teacher in charge of the yearbook, to hear his thoughts on the matter and to find out what exactly is going on with the yearbook this year. While Mr. Welch did not know why the decision was made, he did offer a lot of information about the situation going forward.
Q: How long have you been running the yearbook course at MGCI?
A: I’ve actually been making yearbooks for almost twenty-two years, but at MGCI… well I’ve only been here for fourteen years so about that long. I basically supervise the kids, keep them on task, give them guidance if they need it. After they finish designing the book, I rent out a professional printer and take it to be printed.
Q: That’s amazing. So the kids do everything?
A: Yup. Every single thing, other than the printing of course, but that’s only because it requires quite a lot of experience and precision. The kids make the cover pages, the inside pages, they organize all the pictures and all the information on the students and they put it all together. This year it seems, they have to do all the sales as well.
Q: Does that mean that there will still be a yearbook at Garneau?
A: On condition. Some time in October and November, we will be collecting pre-orders for yearbooks at lunch and after school at a price of $35. If we can get over 400 pre orders, then yes, we will have a yearbook. But if we don’t then everyone who ordered one will get their money returned and their orders canceled.
Q: What happens if more than 400 people order it?
A: That would be fantastic. If that happens we could reduce the price for everyone, and make them more easily accessible. However in previous years—this is like four or five years ago—when the yearbook was not a part of registration, we only ever got about 400 orders.
Q: How exactly do you feel about this change? I’m guessing you weren’t the one who implemented it.
A: No it’s always been up to the administration to determine the budget we’re allocated for the yearbook. We just give them the cost and they gave us the money. When every student got a yearbook, we could bring the cost down to about $20 per book, but now it has to go up. As to my opinion, I don’t think kids should be forced to buy the book, that’s just not fair. But it’s also sort of unfair to those that take the program. We lose a lot of time that we could’ve spent making and designing the book, because we have to spend the first few months doing sales. And its a lot more work for the kids.
Q: Well, at MGCI the TOPS kids have their own yearbook as well that they have to design. However they have to do it on their own time outside of school, yet they only take a few weeks to complete it. What makes the MGCI yearbook so much more difficult to design?
A: Well, I’ve never actually seen the TOPSbook, but I’m assuming that they don’t have to match up eighteen hundred pictures with eighteen hundred students. That actually takes up the majority of the time for the students.
Mr. Welch didn’t know why the yearbook was taken off the registration fee, but he did tell us a lot about what exactly is going on with the yearbook. As useful as this information was, we still didn’t know why. However, we also ran into Mr. Sharp on the way. We briefly questioned him off the record and learned some interesting, albeit not surprising infomation.
It was the board’s decision, desiring for schools to reduce mandatory fees for students. Yearbooks, agendas, anything the students didn’t really need, wasn’t going to be added to their beginning of school fees. After all, school should remain easily accessible to all students everywhere. Fifty dollars a kid is quite a bit even for families not struggling to make ends meet. And it’s not like the board has the money to subsidize any of these costs. But as a result, some students are just getting the bare bones of a good education and are left out of all the little stuff that makes high school what it is.
This wasn’t a decision that was absolutely right or wrong, it was just a decision that unfortunately had to be made. It’s the result of a much larger problem in Ontario—there’s no extra money for education. With cutbacks on everything including teachers, things like yearbooks become luxuries instead of staples of a high school experience. Just like Mr. Welch said, the optional yearbook adds extra work for the students who make it, the price of the yearbook increases and students who want a yearbook but can’t afford it are out of luck. But the whole point of public education is so parents don’t need to pay. Making the yearbook optional becomes the lesser of two evils.
–Editorial Manager Tommy Donnelly contributed to this editorial piece.