- Sponsorship -

Been There, Took the Class, Got the T-shirt

Tiana Marie-Peavey has wanted an AP Lit T-shirt since she first saw one her freshman year. Thing was, you had to be a student in Jeff Larsen’s class.

This year, Tiana got her T-shirt, a rite of passage of sorts since 2006 for students of Larsen. Past T-shirts are displayed like championship pennants in Larsen’s classroom.

“I went to the Secretary of State’s office and got a lot of looks,” Tiana said. “That was fun.”

Teacher Jeff Larsen has been producing T-shirts for his class since 2006

Larsen has taught AP literature and composition at Lowell High School for 18 years, in addition to media studies and literature and film. He started the T-shirt wrap-up to the year, he said “to build esprit de corps in my students.”

Each year’s design is based on something said in class or read in a novel, he said. Most often it’s an inside joke. The images typically align with something in popular culture, such as Star Wars, the ubiquitous “Keep Calm” meme and the iconic 2008 Barack Obama presidential poster by artist Shepard Fairey.

This year’s image is a riff on “King Lear,” Larsen explained. Lear’s long-time adviser, Gloucester, is punished for treason, and the punishment involves having his eyes plucked out. The plucker yells, “Out, vile jelly!” in that scene, “and the kids have a visceral reaction to it,” Larsen said.

“We’ve taken the concept of ‘vile jelly’ and rewritten the old Smucker’s jelly motto — ‘With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good’ — to the more disturbing one” on the T-shirt: “it has to be vile.”

“(Students) might not remember everything about ‘King Lear’ in 20 years,” he added, “but they’ll always remember that vile shirt.”

And this year, his students aren’t the only ones who get to sport the shirts with the jar of eyeball berries on the front, which was designed by student Sydney Conard. Larsen opened the sale up to others in the high school, and he printed extras because he expects to get requests to buy them from other teachers at the AP exam reading in Kansas City in June.

Other Lowell High School AP teachers have picked up on the T-shirt theme, including Spanish, chemistry and biology.

The back of the “King Lear” T-shirt

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


This student leader aspires to inspire

His advice: seize all opportunities, reach out to others...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

‘We’re educators; we always make it work’

Kelly VanDyke’s roots in Kenowa Hills reach back to her days as a student teacher there in the Resource Room. Entering her eleventh school year as a special education teacher at Central Elementary, she is preparing for new students, safety protocols and classroom learning, reimagined...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

District conducts contact tracing after high school student tests positive for COVID-19

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Lowell Area Schools received notification from the Kent County Health Department that a student enrolled at Lowell High School had tested positive for COVID-19...

Education ‘a family thing’ for new interim superintendent

Nate Fowler is the new interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year at Lowell Area Schools. School News Network sat down with the lifelong educator to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Administrators...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU