Petit Jean

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Monday, we welcomed high school students from across the state for the Jostens All In Yearbook Workshop. Students attended workshops on design, photography, headline writing and storytelling.

Today, they left campus with a new set of skills in their toolbox to tackle their school’s yearbook in the coming school year. They also left with something a little less tangible — a greater sense of story and what it means to be a part of a yearbook staff.

Tomorrow, I sit down to construct the ladder — the blueprint of content — for the Petit Jean, Harding’s yearbook. The construction of the ladder is a catalyst to the greater task that is to come.

Too often, I feel like people don’t understand the significance of a yearbook. Sure, it’s a neat book to look through to find yourself and your friends or to find pictures of your social club winning the club basketball championship. But there is something greater to a yearbook than simply pictures and words on pages. It’s what those elements work together to create.

As I’ve thought about what I want the 2016-17 Petit Jean to reflect, one idea has made itself home in my mind. It’s not an idea of what I want the design or photos to look like or how I want the headlines written and formatted. It’s an idea that I hope 40 years from now someone will appreciate.

It’s the idea that in 40 years, when someone is trying to compile a list of Homecoming musicals or find pieces to document Dr. Bruce McLarty’s presidency, they’ll look at the Petit Jean that my staff has created and be impressed — impressed that we thought 40 years in advance and with that made deliberate and well-thought out choices on what Harding’s story is going to be for that year.

Because 40 years from now, no one is going to remember off the top of their head which professor won a national award for their research or which social club took home the Spring Sing sweepstakes award. But what they are going to do is look to the Petit Jean.

My staff and I have the greatest task — to document Harding’s story for 2016-17. That task involves decisions about what to include in Harding’s history and how we tell that story. It’s not a task to be taken lightly, and it’s not a task that we’ll take for granted. It’s that task these high school students on campus this week take to heart, too.

Monday, those students came to campus to learn.

Today, they leave ready to document the history of their school.

And 40 years from now, we’ll all look back on our books and be pleased with what we’ve done because it’s more than just pages, paper and photographs. It’s a story about the place we love. For the Petit Jean staff and me, that’s Harding. And that’s perhaps one of the greatest things we’ll do while we’re here.

Kaleb Turner, Petit Jean editor-in-chief


Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter dedicates the 2015-16 Petit Jean to Dr. Allen Henderson.

Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter dedicates the 2015-16 Petit Jean to Dr. Allen Henderson.

“Few would say we are the same as we were the day we walked on campus,” Petit Jean Editor-in-Chief Maeghen Carter said as she began her introductory speech for this year’s yearbook. “Through the years, yes, we change, but even in our day-to-day lives and roles, we change.”

Carter explained that despite the different hats we wear and roles we fill, we are ourselves at the core. Seeking to utilize this idea in the 2015-16 yearbook, Carter selected the theme “Multitudes” from an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

I am large, I contain multitudes.”

From the array of experiences that make up Harding, a person may choose one or several paths. There are many facets to an individual, and this year’s Petit Jean aims to capture as many as possible by showcasing students in various categories such as social clubs, organizations, academics, athletics, people, international, leadership and campus life.

If you have the chance to pick up the book, I highly suggest you do. Inside you will find stories detailing Harding University in Latin America’s Amazon expedition, the first social club merger in University history, a student serving as a volunteer firefighter, a profile of the Charles White Dining Hall head chef, and so much more.

In chapel today, Dr. McLarty described the Petit Jean as crucial to our university history. It captures our year and our thinking today and preserves it for the future. In the light of this year’s theme, this idea really hits home. Fifty years from now we will not be the same as we are today, but the Petit Jean will be there to remind us — to remind us of who we are and who we were and of the multitudes within ourselves.

Shelby Dias, director of news services


2014-15 Petit Jean yearbook staff

2014-15 Petit Jean yearbook staff

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Realize that everything connects to everything else.” This is the quote that resonated with Petit Jean yearbook editor in chief Shelby Daniel and that inspired her to create the theme for the 2015 book —Connected.

As a former Petit Jean editor myself, I remember the excitement that yearbook distribution day brings. I couldn’t wait until I could officially unveil the central focus of my junior year to the Harding community. I couldn’t wait until my fellow students could see, read and feel the evidence of my staff’s contributions to sharing a year of Harding’s story. And today, I was so excited for the 2014-15 yearbook staff today as they were able to do just that.

As I opened the book this afternoon, the smell of fresh ink overtook my senses. I turned through each thick, matte page of the book, and, not to sound too cliché, I felt connected. I felt connected to the many students who I didn’t know who went to basketball games, who studied at the University’s international program in Florence, and who sat in the same seat as me in classes and chapel.

“I want people to understand that connections are everywhere,” Shelby wrote in her letter from the editor. “We are connected to so many people through mutual friends, common interests, similar studies and maybe even through a shared history. We can all relate because we called Harding home for a short period of time.”

I encourage you to pick up this book if you get the chance. Its unusual and intriguing design sets it apart. You can read stories about a student talented in the art of Origami, a student who was a personal intern of former first lady Laura Bush, a social club-wide game called “Assassins” that involves rubber bands, and so much more.

This impressive piece of Harding history will make you feel proud, and it will definitely make you feel more connected than ever to this place you once called home.

Hannah Beall Owens,
Director of News Services



A rendering of the new Office of Student Publications space. (Scott Ulliman, Columbus, Ohio, motion graphics animator.)

This summer, many changes are happening on campus. One big renovation is in the Reynolds Building where the former communication sciences and disorders speech clinic is being remodeled to become the new Office of Student Publications.

I joined the Student Publications staff in spring 2014, and I got to tour the new space last week. Though the office is unfinished, I quickly began picturing the finished product and the creations that would take place here. With every nail, loose tile or wire hanging from the ceiling, I saw a bustling room and familiar faces of friends —all with common deadlines and a shared understanding of exhaustion mixed with late night Chinese takeout to push us through. In place of paint splattered on the ground, I saw the quaint, new offices for editors and a wide, open work space for staff members. I could see the long hours, creativity, commitment and laughter that will fill these walls.


A shared, open work space for the newspaper and yearbook staffs. (Scott Ulliman)


An editor’s office. (Scott Ulliman)


A new photography and graphic arts studio. (Scott Ulliman)

A photography and graphic arts studio in the new space will provide student photographers and multimedia editors with space to spread out and expand their creative capabilities. The staffs of the Petit Jean yearbook and Bison newspaper will be working alongside each other for the first time in a shared space.

Among these advancements, students can expect to have a new and improved work experience and environment with a coffee station, seating area, and technology updates such as large monitors, projectors and computers.


A reception and seating area. (Scott Ulliman)

Additional updates are also underway in the department of communication side of the Reynolds and include a classroom renovation and a new paint color in the hallways. Photo displays showcasing TV16 news station as well as student awards, photography and artwork will also be a feature of this hallway.

The new Student Publications office and other department renovations should be completed by fall 2014. I can’t wait to be a part of the first group of students to learn, grow and communicate in this new space.

Taylor Gleaves, public relations intern

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Photo credit: Ashel Parsons, another one of our student workers and head photographer of the 2012-13 yearbook

This morning, two of our public relations student workers were a mix of giddy and anxious as they came into work. Mackenzie Lee and Hannah Robison are the assistant editor and organizations editor, respectively, of the 2012-13 Petit Jean yearbook, and today the book was revealed in chapel for the first time.

As a former Petit Jean staff member myself, I sympathize with their varied emotions. It can be scary and, at the same time exhilarating, to finally let go of your work. After a year of late nights and frantic darting around to meet deadlines, the finished product is now ready for the student body to enjoy. Now the scariest part, standing to be recognized in chapel, is behind you as well!

As a writer and someone who loves Harding, I also value what the book represents — a snapshot of the year as it was for future generations to look back on. This year’s editor, Michelle Pugh, commented in the chapel presentation that the Petit Jean is the University’s oldest and longest running publication, dating back to Harding’s first year in 1924. With the theme of “Legacy” this year, the book holds a record of statistics, facts and memories never before compiled in one place to serve as a historical record for years to come.

This year’s book was dedicated to a fellow former PJ-er, President David B. Burks, an honor which includes an eight-page gatefold section that spans more than 40 years of Dr. Burks’ time at Harding.

Congratulations to the Petit Jean staff on a job well done!

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer


Congratulations to the staff of the 2012 Petit Jean for a job well done. The tradition of excellence continues. Special kudos go to Ashel Parsons and her staff of photographers for capturing the year’s events with some great images.

In previous posts on this blog my colleagues in the Public Relations Office have recounted their experiences on Petit Jean staffs. Unfortunately I can’t share my experiences with the yearbook because my student publications lineage comes from the Bison student newspaper. My only experience with the Petit Jean came in sharing a darkroom with their photographers back in the Dark Ages, a.k.a. the late 60s.

My colleagues often remind me that they were a part of THE Harding student publication. To which I remind them that they produced only one publication, while their Bison counterparts produced a publication almost every week of the school year. The friendly rivalry will continue in the office between alumni of the two publications. I have only myself to blame for my minority status in the office. I hired all of those yearbook folks. You can bet my next employee will have Bison roots.

While I’m talking about the Bison, I would be remiss if I did not also congratulate John Mark Adkison, editor of the 2011-2012 Bison, and his staff for an exceptional job in reporting the news of the campus. He, too, continued the tradition of excellence in Harding student publications.

Whether we have Petit Jean or Bison lineage, we all share in the great experiences of student publications that have been so much a part of the Harding scene for more than eight decades. There is a special bond that we all share — unbelievably long nights meeting deadlines.

David Crouch, director of public relations

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I still remember being a freshman photographer for the Petit Jean. I came to Harding with lots of photography experience but no publications experience whatsoever. I remember vividly sitting in chapel one day next to Ken Bissell, Harding’s director of photo services. We were both there to shoot the speaker, and I took a few shots and put my camera down in my lap because I had my photos. I realized Ken was still shooting. As he took photos I watched through my camera because I had no idea what he was seeing that I was missing or why he was picking the exact moments that he was snapping the shutter. I soon realized that he was snapping specific expressions and hand gestures. I followed his example and my photos were better. I started watching other photographers work to see what I could learn. It worked for me because my sophomore year I got the assistant photographer’s job and a small scholarship to take photos. Those two years were by far the most photographically educational years of my life. I still rely on lessons I learned as a Petit Jean photographer.

My junior and senior years at Harding I was a married student so I didn’t have time to give to the Petit Jean. I still was able to work as a student photographer for Leslie Downs in the Public Relations Office. Just before i graduated Leslie decided to go back to school, and I was hired as director of photo services.

For the last 21 years, I have had the privilege of working with many student publication photographers. It is so satisfying to watch them come and work and mature as a photographer just as I did way back in the 1900s as one of my student photographers used to tease me. These guys and gals have been invaluable in helping me cover the numerous jobs that come up every year, but more importantly they are my friends. I miss them when they leave, and I love seeing them when they return to campus for visits.

The great thing about photography is there will always be new photos to take and there will always be new photographers coming to help.

Jeff Montgomery, photographer


When I started working in Public Relations here, one of my first interviews for the magazine was with Tamera Alexander, a Christian historical fiction writer who has won several awards for her novels. I asked her how she got to that point in her career, and her answer has stuck with me ever since.

She said, “God never wastes an experience.” As she applied that to her own career, I realized it was true for my own and my time with student publications and the Petit Jean.

In school, I was an English major earning my teaching licensure and always secretly hoping that one day I’d be a writer.

Lucky for me and my love for writing, my roommate and dear friend happened to be on the Petit Jean staff and was going to be the assistant editor for the 2007-08 book. She came to me saying they were in the market for a copy editor and asked if I’d be interested in doing it.

Grammar? Writing? Pointing out the flaws of others? Yes, please!

Plus, I was getting married in a few months, and any money or job was greatly appreciated.

Working for the Petit Jean was great. I loved working with the yearbook staff and the writers. I loved cleaning up others’ writing to make a better product. And although it was frustrating to find that someone had failed to cover a story, I loved taking an assignment and writing it myself.

One morning, while sitting with my then-fiancé, now husband, in the library, I looked up from the stories I was editing and told him that I would love to do this job forever as my real life job. How nice would that be? He told me that I wasn’t allowed to be wishy-washy on my job because he already had that position.

Fast forward to graduation day. I’m standing there, cap and gown, and everyone in my line is discussing their grand life plan. This guy was moving to inner-city Detroit to teach English, another going to China for the same reason. She was going to grad school; they had a big job lined up at wherever and on and on it went.

I was going to be an unemployed townie.

My husband and I were staying in Searcy. He had a job lined up and grad school forms filled out, and I had nothing. It was a little depressing.

I was two months into unemployment and “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” marathons when I received the greatest Facebook message ever: the news director from Public Relations said there was a job opening for a publications writer in her office and would I be interested in applying and interviewing for it.

A week later I was hired.

And here I am, four years later.

I look back and realize how none of it, really, was my own doing, but God shaping and preparing me for that very moment, blessing me with the job I’ve always wanted. While it’s not a big name like Time or People or whatever, I get to write about what I love — the university with whom I’ve been throughout my adulthood.

And I have the Petit Jean to thank for helping me get here — one of those experiences that God didn’t let go to waste.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer, Petit Jean copy editor 2007-08

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In my editor’s remarks in the 1978 Petit Jean, I wrote, “This book is a part of me; I hope in it you can find a part of yourself.”

For many years, yearbook was a major part of my life. I was a novice editor of my high school book, served four fulfilling years on the Petit Jean staff, and worked as art director for a yearbook company for more than seven years.

As my parents used to say, “Give Tom a yearbook, and he’ll be happy.” And they were right.

Strong relationships are key to this line of work. I cherished and kept in touch with my high school advisor, Mrs. Supinka, for many years after graduating. I had the chance to work with some of the finest people I have ever known during my four years on the Petit Jean staff. I couldn’t have asked for a better advisor than Dr. Joe Pryor and his sweet wife, Bessie Mae. I served under three great editors and worked with some of the best photographers I have known. I even heard from my head photographer who lives in Singapore just the other day. My staff was small, but we worked hard to put out another in a long line of All-American books.

The 2012 book comes out this week, which I eagerly anticipate. There will be no Petit Jean day ceremony with the crowning of a queen and unveiling of a large hand-painted replica of the cover. But the excitement will still be there when students receive the book.

It’s that excitement of birthing a new publication on which I’ve always thrived. I still do with each edition of Harding magazine. You see, once publishing gets in your blood, it’s there forever. And that’s a good thing.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer