High School Annuals Move to Multimedia

CD-ROMs bring readers action of the year

Page through last year's Round Rock High School yearbook and you can see a photograph of senior Nina Griffin.

Or load the CD-ROM version into a personal computer and you can see her photo and hear her voice: "Hi, my name is Nina Griffin. My favorite thing about high school was being a cheerleader and all the great friendships I made that I'll cherish forever. I wish the best ... to all the cheerleaders I cheered with my senior year and hope to see you all at our 20th reunion...."

Or click to the video section to watch the Dragons football team score four touchdowns against district rival Georgetown. Or watch and listen as the Round Rock Marching Band performs the theme from "Shaft" in a regional band competition.

Even the staunchest proponents of computers in schools may never have envisioned a yearbook on CD-ROM.

But Jan and Noreen Costenbader did. Last year, their company, Electric Tours Inc., took the schools' "Dragon '95" yearbook into the world of multimedia. And this year the company already has orders to put the yearbooks of at least 10 high schools on disk.

Only time will tell if this is the yearbook of tomorrow or merely a gadget for today, a result of the growing push of computer and software manufacturers into multimedia.

"I don't know that we can say there will be a lot of them," says Cindy Serratore, spokeswoman for Jostens, a Minnesota-based company that is one of the country's biggest producers of school rings, yearbooks, and other high school graduation memorabilia.

One reason Round Rock High School yearbook adviser Susan Komandosky agreed to the CD-ROM project is that she expects the medium will be long-lasting.

The yearbooks are more time-consuming and costly to produce, however. "Many schools have a hard enough time trying to get out a traditional book," Ms. Serratone says. If a general shift from hardbound yearbooks to CD-ROMs does happen, she says, "It will happen slowly."

Jostens does not produce any yearbooks on CD-ROM, although Ms. Serratore says some of its customers have tried the electronic version, in addition to their regular books.

"You've got to look to the future," says Round Rock sophomore Johanna Kimball, who says she particularly likes the live-action video clips CD-ROMs provide. "More people are getting into computers and more computers have CD-ROM."

Of course, not everyone has a computer at home, even in this area, where the recent burgeoning of such high-tech companies as Dell Computers and Texas Instruments has earned the region the nickname: "The Silicon Hills."

That is part of why yearbook editor Jeremy Czepiel, whose family does not have a personal computer, believes the traditional hard-backed yearbook will endure.

"You can carry it around," Mr. Czepiel says of the low-tech edition. "You don't have to have [a CD-ROM player]. You can just flip through it."

Besides, you can't sign a CD.

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