Senior shirt design unfairly altered, production delayed

While admin did not approve the design featuring hot 23niors, class shirts with new designs are on the horizon.

Photo courtesy of Max Choi

While admin did not approve the design featuring “hot 23niors,” class shirts with new designs are on the horizon.

The most voted for design for the senior class shirts — with “hot 23niors” written on them — was initially approved by the school’s administration, but controversy ensued shortly after.

Over the summer, a vote was held and the class narrowed down the shirt design to three different choices: smiley faces, Subway themed, and Hot 23niors. Before the previous administrator — Nicholas Hitchens — left, he had approved the two most popular designs: Hot 23niors and Subway themed. 

The school’s newly appointed principal, Douglas Nelson, was also on the verge of approving the designs. However, other school administrators and staff convinced him otherwise, leaving only the third most popular design, smiley faces, approved. In an attempt to boost sales of the shirts, Senior Planning decided to alter the original design and use the school colors: red, white and blue.

In the end, while only 70 orders were placed for the smiley face shirts, Senior Planning proceeded with the order form and sent it to Custom Ink, a personalized clothing maker. Another roadblock followed suit. Custom Ink was not able to print the smiley face design due to copyright issues and refunded the orders. 

Another design submission window (that has now closed) was opened by Senior Planning as a result. The submitted designs have been sent to Custom Ink, who will promptly communicate which designs they are able to print out. “Senior Planning appreciates everyone’s patience as we are still trying to work things out with the vendor as well as admin,” Senior Class President Max Choi said.

From the beginning of the voting process to the current uncertain state of the senior class shirts, the process has been anything but smooth. The school’s administration was not honorable in its actions toward Senior Planning and the rest of the senior class. It got students’ hopes up just to dash them away in an instant right before the finish line. 

Students’ freedom of expression in schools has been a long disputed topic, but the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969 found that students do not lose the liberty to express themselves in school unless what they are wearing disrupts the classroom.  While a shirt featuring the words “Hot 23niors” may be seen as slightly inappropriate by staff and administrators, surely those words wouldn’t disturb a classroom other than possibly a couple laughs. 

The shirts are meant to connect the students of the graduating class together and celebrate the special four years they spent together before each going on their own new path. Instead, the current backtracking administration has caused a rift between the students and Senior Planning all while ruining what was meant to be a unifying experience. The students’ trust in the administration has also plummeted as a result. At the end of the day, the shirts will serve as valuable artifacts and memories for the senior class rather than for the administration, so it is clear who should have had the opportunity to decide on the design.