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This yearbook just has to be seen to be believed

Videotape yearbooks . . . why not?

It was just a matter of time until someone thought of it -- high school yearbooks on videotape. Only trouble is, no one has yet figured out a way to write in them or to scribble on those important and often sentimental end-of-the-term autographs:

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* I'll always remember you -- in Spanish

* Hey, man, at least no laps today

* Hope we both get accepted at State

* Roses are red and I am blue . . .

But the no-autographs-problem hasn't stopped six southern California high schools from participating in a sort of subsidized experiment to put the year's visual school activities on videotape, playable on one-hour cassettes in Beta or VHS units.

A Torrance organization, Video a la Carte, which has opened up a new venture in the videotaping of homeowner valuables and collectibles, weddings, birthdays, legal documents, private parties, and other projects, is the mover behind the yearbook in living motion.

Its color-sound-and-movement camera crews are doing about 20 pre-selected, scheduled appearances at six high schools: Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach), Estancia (Costa Mesa), Miraliste (Rancho Palos Verdes), South Hills (West Covina), Cerritos High School, and Van Nuys High School. These screenings usually cover all-school athletic, social or local community events.

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''In addition to this type of filming,'' one school supervisor said, ''students have asked for more candid shots, more personal interviews, and more between-class activity.''

Videotape yearbooks under this pilot plan have been set up to supplement the traditional printed yearbooks. So far, although there is no financial liability in the experiment for either the students or the school administrations, the finished cassette price of $60 appears out of reach to many students -- especially when this would be added to the $20 charged for the print book.

Five dollars of the cassette price is turned over to the student body fund, so in one way the idea can be a moneymaker for the school.

Ted Brown, president of Video a la Carte, expects about 20 percent of the student body in each school will eventually sign up for the Video yearbooks. Break-even point for the venture will be the sales of just over 100 tapes. Future videotape yearbooks, Brown points out, will carry -- in all probability -- a great many advertising messages from near-school merchants, just as the annual printed publications do now. This would help develop revenue to offset expenses.

Activity chairmen among the six schools participating agree there may be future benefits for the schools themselves in the taped yearbook idea -- such as using it at alumni reunions, and for new-student orientation.

Some day, there might even be a way to insert those see-you-in-the-fall visual autographs. What a great idea.

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