When Emma Williams, ‘15, opened the first print edition of the Octagon in October, she was stunned.
“It looks like a completely different paper,” Williams said in an email. “I know that must have taken a lot of work!”
And it did. Over the summer print co-editors-in-chief Marigot Fackenthal and Adam Dean changed the fonts of the copy, captions and headlines. Fackenthal also changed the jump lines and bylines, which she feels really improved the overall look.
In addition, the number of columns has been increased from three or four to five.
Fackenthal said that the editors received inspiration from The ReMarker, her favorite high-school newspaper, which excels in presenting lots of graphics and small stories.
The circles around the page number were directly imported from the ReMarker, the newspaper of St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas.
One of last year’s print-editors-in-chief, Manson Tung, also praised the new layout, describing the changes as “modern and bold.” He thinks the future of journalism is really in design and no longer just blocks of text. He also “thinks the paper stands a good shot at winning Pacemaker,” the prestigious award from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), sometimes called “the Pulitzer Prize of high-school journalism.”
It was, in fact, the NSPA’s critique that inspired some of the changes. That critique of last year’s issues warned the Octagon to be careful about any floating images, as well as making sure every poll or graphic is properly labeled. The NSPA also advises the editors “not to be afraid of white space as this will create a more visually appealing page.”
Fackenthal said she always assumed that the reason the paper looked the way it did every year was because the editors were limited by certain guidelines. However, upon becoming editor-in-chief, Fackenthal was told there were no such guidelines, which is why this year she “took the initiative and changed things up!”
The editors will continue to improve the layout over the course of the year in preparation for the next critique.
However, the Octagon wasn’t the only publication to receive a facelift. The school’s roster was also redesigned for the first time in over a dozen years.
Director of communications Julie Nelson said that she, assistant head of school Tucker Foehl and director of technology Tom Wroten worked on the new design over the summer.
They actually started by designing a new viewbook, the book sent to families interested in the school. The viewbook was using a design that hadn’t been changed in a long time, Nelson said. The logo on all of these publications was the standard SCDS book stack, which Nelson modernized by making it into a colored shield.
She then decided that she would use the viewbook’s new logo to refresh the roster, the advertising, the 2015-2016 Budget Report and the Annual Fund material.
Another big change was the font. Many years ago it was Times New Roman, one of the only options at the time. Later they quickly switched to Arial Narrow as it saved a large amount of space, Nelson said. Last year they changed to Optima. Since no one seemed to notice the difference, the school switched to Avenir Next this year.
“I’m into fonts!” Nelson said.
“I got many comments on how readable the new roster was,” Nelson said. “I’m glad people are appreciating the changes we make.”
Another change is in how the document is printed. The roster, which used to be printed professionally, is now done in-house, which allows small changes to be made and processed much more quickly, Nelson said.
Both design teams said they hope these changes will give their publications a modernized look.
—By Mehdi Lacombe