Tesserae Yearbook

A Glimpse of What Goes Into Producing a Nationally Recognized, Award-Winning Yearbook

This past school year, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its Crown Award Finalists. The Crown Awards honor top student publications chosen from CSPA’s members. Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison. Student publishing in news, magazine, yearbook or digital (online) formats are all-eligible. During Crown consideration, publications are judged on their excellence as shown by their design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. A total of 805 publications were eligible for judging. Of those submissions, Tesserae Yearbook was the recipient of a 6th Gold Crown in a row for the 2022 book!

Q and A with Adah Gray, 2023 Tesserae Co-Editor-in-Chief 

What does it mean to you and the program to receive the Gold Crown recognition, your sixth in a row?

For me personally, the CSPA Gold Crown signifies that our program puts together a superior yearbook that is highly regarded at the national level. With this being our sixth consecutive Gold Crown, I think it shows that we really put the effort into consistently making high quality yearbooks for our school and community. 

For those who do not know, what is a Gold Crown, and what does it mean in the student journalism world?

The easiest way to explain what a Gold Crown is that it is like a gold medal given out to the best yearbooks in the country. It shows that we have overall excellence in all aspects of our publication when compared to other publications across the country. Our program specifically is a hybrid yearbook, meaning that we have the traditional print yearbook as well as an online presence, so we are judged on both parts. 

What do you think sets Tesserae apart, that the judges recognize? Is it writing, graphics, all the above or something else?

I personally think that what the judges love about our books is our attention to detail and constant drive to innovate. We spend so much time editing and proofing each little part that goes into the big end product that it's difficult to find many mistakes when the book drops. For our book last year, we took a theme that had been done many times before "It's About Time" but chose to carry it out in a way that had never been done before. I think that people in the yearbook community and judges are drawn to that because we find new storytelling methods, new visual techniques, and even a new meaning behind words to pull through the book. 

What happens at the National Conference? 

At the conference we have the chance to attend a variety of classes in all aspects of journalism including photography, writing, law and ethics, or business and advertising. Something that I think most people on our staff enjoy is getting to make friends with other journalism students. It can be so cool to finally have a few faces to put to the name of a program or book that we've talked about or have in our media lab. Overall, I think we leave the conference having had a lot of fun with each other and learning a lot to bring back to the lab. Earning an award at the end is just the icing on the cake.