Memories are more than these Yearbook delay halts autograph tradition, but not spirit of graduation.

June 11, 1996

"GATHER YE ROSEBUDS while ye may," the English lyric poet Robert Herrick exhorted young people more than three centuries ago. His urgent words may find special meaning for seniors at South Carroll High School, where the yearbook will appear two weeks after classes end. New graduates bemoan the fact they will not be able to collect cherished yearbook autographs from classmates before departing.

At high school graduation, youthful expectations are high and the impulse is to squeeze as much as possible into a few short final weeks. Trips and parties, school ceremonies, gifts and mementos are to be feverishly collected and savored in that all too brief period.

The failure to publish the yearbook on time is certainly a letdown for South Carroll's graduating class, and for the ritual of classmate signings. But wiser heads can assure these young people that the disappointment will soon fade. (They can also attest to the insignificance of most hasty signings, with their unoriginal, if well-meaning, apothegms; names and pictures bring back more meaningful memories.)

We'll leave it to school authorities to decide what grades to give students who put out the tardy yearbook for academic credit. And what to do with teacher supervisors of the credit project. At the least, steps must be taken to assure that future yearbooks meet the deadlines, for the good of the entire school.

For the record, some high schools traditionally get their yearbooks in the fall; graduates pick up the volume at school, or it may be mailed out. The publication delay allows the use of photos of spring activities. Other schools use spring photos from the previous year, and deliver the book in the spring. There are different ways to do it, and different ways to collect schoolmate autographs during the class year.

The episode also illustrates again the frustrating lack of coordination of school calendars in the region, which can play havoc with plans of families, employers, organizations -- and yearbook printers. Most counties will end classes later than Carroll. Baltimore County alone held classes on Memorial Day and will still close schools a week later. The end of the school year in these parts is unreliable. All the more reason to set, and keep, early deadlines for yearbooks, and rosebuds.

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