“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
-Henry David Thoreau
I know from my conversations with parents, students, and teachers, that there is great interest in how the Trinity School calendar images are planned and selected. Most people are quite surprised when I tell them what is involved. I’m not certain what they expect the process to be, although it is clearly something different from what actually happens. For those of you who have not had this conversation with me, or who haven’t had it in a while, here is a description of what happens.
The calendar must equally represent the three divisions
Ever since the calendar was produced for the 1996-1997 academic year, I have done my best to make it representative of the school. To provide a foundation to meet this goal, the twelve images that make up the calendar are divided equally among the three divisions, with each being represented by four images. The cover image rotates among the three divisions so that each gets a turn on the front of the publication.
The calendar must be representative of the student experience
As I plan the thirteen photo shoots for the calendar (yes, the photo shoots are specifically structured for use in the calendar alone) I strive to make certain that the four images for each division are representative of the student experience. To meet this goal the photography is scheduled for situations that fill each of the following categories: academic, arts, community service or special event, and physical fitness or athletics.
The calendar must reflect the student population
By May each year I have completed my thirteen photo shoots and I begin to sort through the images. I tend to do this by division, winnowing down the images to the ones that are the most compelling and interesting from each category. I usually end up with three or four images from each photo shoot and that’s when I begin to look at how representative the images are of Trinity’s student population. Trinity is nearly fifty percent boys and fifty percent girls. So, one criterion is making certain that boys and girls are equally represented throughout the images for each division. Trinity is roughly eighty percent white and twenty percent students of color, which is another criterion. These criteria are not always exactly adhered to; as such figures are often determined by the addition or subtraction of a single student. For this year’s calendar, boys and girls are equally represented in the Lower School and Middle School, but girls are over-represented in the Upper School. The reason? The better images happened to have more girls than boys. I opted to choose those images and have a calendar with a stronger impact, rather than one that was more representative.
Every year I am pretty much guaranteed to be asked the following questions:
Why wasn’t I in the calendar? With nearly 1,000 students and over 200 faculty and staff and just thirteen “chances to win” and be in one of the calendar images, your odds of not being in the calendar are pretty high. While I do keep a variety of lists in an attempt to minimize repeat appearances in the calendar, your odds are still only slightly better than your odds of winning the lottery.
Why do you pick the students you do? The images are selected based on the criteria mentioned above and then based on how engaging and compelling the image is. When selecting images for the calendar I’m not picking students, I’m picking the image that shows the “decisive moment” from that class, event, or experience.
Do you really follow all of these criteria? Isn’t it all just political correctness? Yes, I really do work to meet these criteria and, no, it isn’t political correctness at all. All of the print and electronic publications for which I am responsible need to be as representative of the school as possible. With the calendar I have the opportunity to show the breadth of the school’s offerings and demonstrate the makeup of the student population. The calendar serves as a reflection of the School. That’s what I hope to achieve with every edition.
Enjoy the school year!