A Brief Introduction to The Brief

Many students are involved in the various Choate publications: The Choate News, The Lit, High Society, and Nexus, just to name a few. However, we often forget one particular publication, which makes its appearance only once a year in late May: The Brief. Choate’s yearbook is an extraordinary 350 pages, and it includes everything from extracurricular highlights to senior superlatives. So how exactly is The Brief made, and who are the forces behind it?

Production of The Brief is a dynamic process. Throughout the year, students and Ms. Andrea Sorrells, the faculty adviser to The Brief, meet each Sunday afternoon for an hour or two. Depending on the stage in which the yearbook is, between six and thirteen people come to the meetings. Keziah Clarke ’16, one of two Editors-in-Chief, said, “One of the most entertaining meetings was the one we spent learning to write the best captions. It turned into a hilarious competition.” Devon Bernsley ’16, the other Editor-in-Chief, added, “We spend a lot of time together, and we become very close.”

Another important factor of The Brief’s organization is the efficient division of duties. Editors-in-Chief are responsible for opening and closing the layout sessions, directing different sections, and creating special pages.

Section editors direct the different sections by organizing the layout and setting the theme of their section. Major sections include Arts, Sports, Special Events, and senior half-pages. Each page within the sections consist of pictures, captions, and blurbs. Staff members get to choose a section that they want to work for, and they get assignments during the week, such as sending e-mails, gathering pictures, and working on layout.

As faculty adviser, Ms. Sorrells also has a significant role. “I am responsible for keeping the deadlines, providing guidance to the students, communicating with the photograph and yearbook companies, and selling yearbooks to students. I’m also responsible for providing food during the meeting,” she said.

The first volume of The Brief was published in April 1900 at the Choate School. Its self-described purpose was “to keep some record of our good times, of our struggles, and our victories with some mention of our defeats; a wish to preserve our memorabilia, and last, though not least, a hope to stimulate interest in the work of the English Department.” If that last part sounds unfamiliar, it is because The Brief initially followed the format of The Lit rather than a yearbook: Students would write poems or short essays that reflected back on the year. It was not until the 1909 publication of The Brief  that the format of the yearbook we know today came to be.

Nearby, in Greenwich, Rosemary Hall published its first yearbook in 1908, titled The Answer Book. It matched up with the title of another Rosemary Hall publication, The Question Mark (styled as ?), a multi-purpose literary magazine. After the Choate School and Rosemary Hall merged, students formed a co-ed yearbook.

Thanks to The Brief, over a century’s worth of memories have been recorded for all of posterity. As copies of the 2015-2016 issue of The Brief begin appearing on campus, let us not forget the people who make it possible.


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