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Sign My CD? High-Tech Yearbook Offers New Way to Look Back

May 31, 1996

SUDBURY, Mass. (AP) _ This year’s traditional Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School yearbook is 310 pages long and would make a pretty good doorstop. The school’s other yearbook is another story.

It talks.

The suburban Boston school is among the first in the nation to publish a CD-ROM version of its yearbook.

The computerized ``yeardisc″ includes more than a thousand photos and a year’s worth of school newspapers, all against a backdrop of schoolhouse sounds _ from hallway chatter to cafeteria cacophony. One student’s picture even ``morphs″ from high school senior to grade-schooler in a few seconds.

Eleven students put the disc together in marathon sessions before, during and after school. At one point, they put up a hammock in their work room for quick rest periods.

``Once we tried to spend the night here,″ student Jennifer Coogan said. ``But our parents drew the line there.″

On Thursday, the group was working out last-minute ``bugs″ in a prototype before sending it out to be imprinted on 500 discs. The CD-ROMS, when put into equipped personal computers, can play back sound, text and images.

Though literally signing the shiny discs is not advised, CD-ROM yearbooks do have several advantages over print ones.

For one thing, they are cheaper: the school’s ``Dyad on Disc″ costs $19.96, compared to $50 for the book. They also are able to fit much more information than paper yearbooks without jacking up the size and cost. For example, seniors get up to 500 words to sum up their school experiences instead of the regular sentence or two.

And, of course, CD-ROM can bring alive the sights and sounds of high school.

Random sounds, including student comments and a history class lecture, play as you navigate the disc. Click on a candid shot of a classmate or look up a student’s name, and you are linked to more information about the student. The disc also includes 40 pictures from a student art show.

Going to CD-ROM was a logical next step for Lincoln-Sudbury because students already produce much of the print yearbook using electronic publishing software, yearbook adviser Fred Walker said.

``We were digitizing so many images anyway, that to put them on CD-ROM was easy,″ he said.

The school, which includes students from two affluent suburbs west of Boston, is wired, too. Everyone from the principal to incoming freshmen has access to e-mail and the Internet. There are 160 computers for 950 students.

Lincoln-Sudbury is not the first school to make the cyber-leap to CD-ROM yearbooks. Round Rock, Texas-based Electronic Tour Corp. made similar discs for several schools last year.

But despite the advances in technology, there are always some drawbacks.

``You can’t have your friends’ signatures or pages you can turn. You can’t take the disc to grandma’s house,″ said Mark Nesky, one of the four CD-ROM yearbook’s editors-in-chief.

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