It has been many years since I passed through the public school system, so I don't know how much has changed with regard to school pictures. Somehow, I don't think things are much different. Here are a few memories I have about school pictures.
When I was in grade school, picture day was a big deal. Everybody wore nice clothes, brushed or combed their hair, and most importantly, made sure to smile big during the photo. It was a big deal for us to be able to take an hour off from school work in order to go to the auditorium to have our pictures taken. The highlight of the day came when we each got a black plastic comb as a gift from the photography company. I always gave my comb to my dad, and he always made a big show of being happy to get one. Then, all the students waited with great anticipation for the developed pictures to arrive about a month later. We got a class photo as part of the package. It wasn't really a group photo; it was just a compilation of the individual student pictures put onto a single page. In short, during grade school, things didn't get much bigger than picture day.
Then in junior high school, a bit of apathy start to set in. Most students didn't choose to wear their best clothes anymore. Instead, we wore our favorite outfits, which might have just consisted of a t-shirt and jeans. Furthermore, not everyone smiled during their pictures. It became "cool" to stare defiantly into the camera or to smirk as if we had an inside joke going around. Picture day had definitely lost some of its luster.
When I reached high school, picture day was suddenly quite different. The photos taken on picture day would make their way into the yearbook. In my case, that meant that close to 3,000 students and faculty members would be able to see my picture. It seemed that most students chose one of two routes: they could either try to look their best, or they could go the other way and try to look a bit ridiculous, and therefore cool. For example, each year the guys in the popular clique would coordinate their look for the picture. One time they all wore homemade tie-dyed orange and blue polo shirts (our school colors). Another time they all put their shirt collars up in a salute to the '80s.
Then when it came time for the senior portrait, everything came full circle as people dressed to the nines and made sure they had perfect hair, just like picture day in grade school. I made a terrible decision and opted to skip my senior portrait. I think I ditched a couple of morning classes and went out to breakfast with some of my friends on picture day that year. At any rate, now I really wish I had a nice picture of myself from high school so I could share it with my husband and my son.
So, as a new school year draws closer, my advice to you is to look your best on picture day and make sure you actually have your photo taken, no matter what grade you are in. Ten or 20 years from now, you will be glad you did.