The death of a student shakes a school community and devastates the entire student body. During this tragic time, students and staff members lean on each other for support as they try to cope. After the death of a student, the school yearbook can become an important tool for healing. While it may seem daunting to try to cover a student’s death in an appropriate way, there are some strategies that yearbook staff members can utilize in order to pay tribute and allow for proper remembrance of that person.
Create a tribute page
Add a clean, simple tribute page where students can read about the person who passed away, including learning about their likes, goals, and accomplishments. This page helps to illustrate what the person was all about, allowing those who knew them to reminisce fondly. The page can include some of the student’s major accomplishments, as well as their favorite quotes, movies, books and pictures. Personalize the page however you see fit, but allow that individual’s personality and life story to really shine through.
Do not ignore it
It can feel nearly impossible to do a student’s entire life justice, and as a result it may seem easier to just do nothing. But remember, this person was someone’s child, friend, sibling and classmate; a yearbook tribute of some kind is necessary. There is no “right” way to do it, so don’t worry about achieving perfection. Just give the deceased student the respect they deserve, while allowing others to take some time to remember them.
Dedicate the book to the student
If you do a presentation ceremony to unveil that year’s book, make it a point to honor the student during this ceremony. This could be through a moment of silence, by having someone say a few words or by playing their favorite song as the books are handed out. This moment will be a poignant one, and will help students to commemorate the classmate they lost.
Consult with the family and friends
If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, the best course of action is to ask the friends and family members of the student who died what they would like to see happen. They may have a suggestion about how to honor the student properly, and will take comfort in knowing that they helped to plan the tribute.
While it’s never easy to find a fitting way to honor a student who died far too young, doing so is important for the school community and for all who knew that person. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance from the family of the person who died, and make sure the tribute gives an accurate snapshot of that student’s life.