Melanie Wilson is more than just an involved parent. She's been president of the local school advocacy group Speak Up Summit, helped found a local women's business group and for the past four years helped publish one of the best high school programs around, the Summit Hilltopper. She recently shared her thoughts on the process and gave Patch the inside scoop on what it takes to create the yearly athletic program.
Why does Summit need such a spectacular book?
Melanie Wilson: Summit does not "need" this spectacular book. It does, however, benefit greatly from having it. It is a wonderful service of the Summit Boosters Association, and requires a monumental effort by members of the Summit Hilltopper committee to include photos, stats, records etc. of every Summit High School Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshmen team.
It shines a terrific spotlight on Summit Athletics, and particularly on our graduating athletes and marching band members. Families buy the yearbook-quality book as a keepsake of their Summit athletic experience.
Businesses who support the Summit athletic program through advertising in the book are recognized by Summit families as having a stake in the community.
What's the biggest challenge to putting this all together?
MW: For me, the biggest challenge is reaching out to all of the companies who
should be advertising in the book. It is a huge undertaking. As soon as
the book is off the press, I begin production on the next year's book! This
includes in-person visits, emails, mailings, phone calls, etc.
Getting advertisers to send in logos and copy, and then getting a final ad approved can be quite the challenge!
From the editorial side, there is the challenge of including all of the Fall athletic rosters before the print deadline. I think an additional challenge for the editorial department is accommodating me with all the ads I bring in way past deadline!
How has the book evolved?
MW: We converted the book to color four years ago. Before that, it was pretty
unimpressive. Last year, it was 168 pages, with a 32-page color section in
We never know how big it is going to be until we actually lay it out. I am hoping that the color section will grow and grow.
What's the entire process like for you? It must get pretty hectic sometimes.
MW: We go a little crazy putting the book together. Math
Teacher Alicia Grysko lays out everything on her laptop. She is the former
yearbook editor, and has been putting together Summit Hilltopper for four
Production week is nuts. Sometimes we work all night. One year we
worked completely through Labor Day weekend to make sure that all the ads
were correctly placed. All the kids names are spelled right, the index is
accurate, the kids are actually playing the sports that they are listed for,
etc. We make a lot of phone calls, use a lot of connections.
What's the most important part of putting this all together?
MW: Choosing the cover is an important part of the process. We keep it a
surprise until the book actually comes out. Last year, the goat received
I think the favorite cover to date was our first color cover: a terrific shot of the fans at Giant Stadium (taken by parent Charles Tsiang) when the football team won the state championship.
This year's cover should have wide appeal...stay tuned!
How much does it cost to put Summit Hilltopper together?
MW: We sell the book for $10 a copy, but it actually costs over $16 a copy to
print. Peter Twill does a beautiful job printing the book.
Together with merchandise sales and the Patron mailing, the Summit Boosters Association raises over $55,000 a year to provide athletes with capital improvement contributions, supplies for athletic programs, certificates, pins, letters, plaques and more.
Money that is raised each year goes to support eight . The Summit Boosters Association takes great pride in sponsoring the Senior Athletic Banquet each year, where these scholarship winners are announced. The banquet honors all seniors who have
taken part in athletics during their senior year. Howard S. Anderson was a
longtime coach, teacher and athletic director at Summit High School.
How can folks get a copy of the Summit Hilltopper?
MW: The book will be available for sale at home games throughout the year, and available at . We sell the most books in the fall. It is my dream to have a book for each of the sports seasons during the year. Right now, the coverage in the book begins with last school year's winter season, then last spring season, and finishes up with the upcoming fall season.
We also sell the book to parents of freshmen college kids when they come to the game, but it is a bit of a harder sell. You can't really order the book on the website because of the size; it costs almost $6 to mail a copy. But that is a possibility for the future.
When the Hilltop Shop opens in the Mondo building, the book will be featured. This will be a way for it to get into a lot more people's hands. We think that realtors should give a copy of this book to every family who moves into town.
Where are you now in the process?
MW: I do a mailing early summer to everyone who has run in the book the prior
year. Then I buy a list of all Summit businesses, and mail to them as well.
Every year we get new businesses through this mailing, but it is difficult
to follow up with everyone and, sadly, I always get a few calls after we
have already gone to press. Whoever sees the book is amazed at how
beautiful it is. They want to support the schools with an ad, but sometimes
just do not manage to get it together in time. My goal is to reach as many
people as possible, and reinforce the importance of supporting Summit
We are coming down to the wire to reserve ad space for the issue that will
premier at the first home football game on September 8. Color pages are
$500, color half pages are $275, Black/white rates are: full page $325,
one-half page $175, one-quarter page $100 and business card is $60.
Deadline is this Friday, August 10. We can help anyone put an ad together
if you email a logo, copy and/or a photo. For more information contact
Melanie Wilson at 908-337-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to the advertising specifications:
So this is a real passion project in many ways.
MW: I call this book "my fourth child." Michelle Kennedy, Trish Cassin and the
editorial committee, the production committee and the advertising committee
put a huge amount of time and talent into improving this book every year,
and it is evident when you look at the progression of the issues.
The sharpness of the photography, the depth of the team coverage, and the
quality in the advertising improves steadily. It is truly a labor of love.