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Mitchell High yearbook goes high tech

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Published:   |   Updated: May 20, 2014 at 01:14 PM

Natalie Capshaw flipped open the 2014 J.W. Mitchell High School yearbook and hovered her cellphone over a photograph of band members performing a chant at a school event.

Within a moment, the photograph came to life as a video playing on the 18-year-old senior’s phone.

“I’ve been showing my family,” she said. “They are crazy about it.”

Photographs that scan into videos are one of the newest innovations in yearbooks, providing the Mitchell High yearbook staff an extra way to tell stories, and the students one more opportunity for appearing in the yearbook.

“My mom thinks it’s the best thing ever,” said Baylor Cherry, 18, who shares yearbook editor-in-chief duties with Capshaw.

The new way of remembering those high school activities is made possible through a nearly year-old partnership between Walsworth Yearbooks and Aurasma, a company that provides the free cellphone application that allows students, teachers and anyone else to activate a yearbook video via a mobile device.

“We’re always trying to take the book to the next level,” said Sabrina Schmitz, the yearbook adviser at Mitchell High.

The technology helps make the yearbook more relevant for this generation of high school students, she said, but you don’t have to be young to appreciate it.

“I’ve gotten responses from parents that they get a kick out of the new upgrades, too,” Schmitz said.

Throughout the 368-page yearbook, Mitchell students will find 25 photographs that they can transform into videos on their smartphones through the Yearbook 3D feature. One example is a two-page spread about the “selfie” fad. The spread includes photographs of nine students, but activate the video and suddenly 114 more students are included.

The yearbook also comes with an additional technology-driven feature called Yearbook Shout that gives students an alternative way of signing a friend’s book. For $3, students can buy a strip of five Yearbook Shout stickers that have a QR code. After they scan the QR code, students can create a video message for a friend. They then place the sticker in the friend’s yearbook and the friend can scan it to watch the video.

“I’ve had people say, ‘This is the best yearbook I’ve ever seen,’” Cherry said.

The added features required extra work for the yearbook staff members, though. When they covered events, they needed to take still photographs, plus shoot video.

The two editors say it’s all worthwhile at the end of the year when the books arrive and students begin thumbing through them.

“It’s rewarding to see the student body appreciate the work,” she said.

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