Raise the roof

Junior paints ceiling tiles for English classroom


Photo by Kayla Neff

Story by Lauren Potter, design editor

Dusting off an old ceiling tile, squeezing out various colors onto her paint tray,  junior Alex O’Gorman starts on her next masterpiece to sit above the heads of students in Anita Badgett’s English classroom.

Having heard of O’Gorman’s art skills, Badgett asked her to begin painting ceiling tiles for her classroom.

“It wasn’t so much as my idea to paint the ceiling tiles as it was Mrs. Badgett’s,” O’Gorman said.  “Over the summer she came up to me and she was like ‘would you be willing to paint ceiling tiles?’ and I was like ‘yeah, sure.’”

O’Gorman’s first tile consisted of the school logo with more of a realistic aspect.

“I always see the Texas High logo being every where but no one puts a realistic tiger on it, it’s always a cartoon,” O’Gorman said.  “I thought she’d really like it if there was a tiger displayed realistically because that is more my style.”

After her first tile had been placed back in its slot and admired by teachers and students, O’Gorman started on her second design.

“For the other one, she didn’t really specify what she wanted for the tile, so I figured I would incorporate English in it since that’s the subject she teaches,” O’Gorman said. “My original idea was to have one book with stuff coming out of it but then it became a book case with one book at the end that’s open with scenes from really iconic books coming out of it.”

O’Gorman and Badgett have formed a special connection over the past two years.

“I’ve had her for every year I’ve been at Texas High, and I feel like our relationship is more deep,” O’Gorman said. “I wouldn’t have done it for any other teacher.”

Badgett has noticed O’Gorman’s painting skill after years of teaching her.

“In the past, Alex has submitted several class assigned projects where she used paint as her medium,” Badgett said. “I have always been impressed with her artistic abilities. I thought having her design ceiling tiles for my classroom would be a great way to showcase her talent.”

Badgett came up with the idea of painting ceiling tiles while visiting Europe.

“I traveled to Rome and Vatican City a couple of years ago and visited both the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica. After I had spent time viewing Michelangelo’s  work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel I began to ‘people watch.’ I was amazed at the effect that artwork on a ceiling could have on so many people from different walks of life,” Badgett said. “It made me wonder what I could do in my own classroom that might cause such intrigue. It wasn’t until I was standing in Saint Peter’s Basilica looking up, yet again, at scriptures written in 6.6 foot letters around the top of the church that it dawned on me to use quotes from the novels that we read in class.”

Along with painting some tiles herself, Badgett hopes to recruit more students for this activity.

“In addition to the tiles Alex created,  I currently have three literary quotes my sister-in-law sketched out and I painted,” Badgett said. “My goal is to enlist more students to help complete future tiles.”

Badgett hopes that her creativity in the classroom will inspire students to become more interested in the upcoming novels.

“My goal is to entice students to question, discuss, and connect to literature in any way possible and that conversation can’t happen unless something makes them stop and wonder,” Badgett said. “I want my students to see the use of novels outside of the typical reading assignment and if that means painting meaningful literary quotes on ceiling tiles, then, why not?”