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STUDENTS `MORPH' YEARBOOK INTO CD

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 1,000 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 Coo-gan said. "But our parents drew the line there."

On Thursday, the group worked out last-minute "bugs" in a prototype before sending it out to be imprinted on 500 discs.

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 with $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, adviser Fred Walker said.

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

But 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.